Trump Faces Backlash from Base over Bitcoin

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on July 12, 2019. - Trump is traveling to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump faced a backlash from his online supporters last week after he condemned the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as “highly volatile” and a facilitator of illegal activity. Trump called for Facebook’s new “Libra” cryptocurrency to be regulated like a bank.

Many of the president’s biggest fans are users and supporters of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As companies like PayPal, Patreon, and various major credit cards conduct financial blacklisting to impoverish the political right, and as the far left demonize, harass, and even assault those suspected of supporting conservative causes, Bitcoin provides an escape route financial blacklisting and a method to discreetly support conservatives.

But President Trump is not on board.

In a string of tweets during his social media summit last week, he derided Bitcoin as “not money,” accused it of being “highly volatile and based on thin air.”

Filmmaker and author Mike Cernovich, who strongly supported the president’s campaign in 2016, said the president had received bad advice on cryptocurrencies.

“Trump is usually a visionary,” said Cernovich. “He has clearly been misled by advisers who don’t have his best interests in mind. Bitcoin offers a way for freedom-minded people to buy and trade without having to submit to Wall Street.”

One potential source of pressure against cryptocurrencies at the federal level may be the FBI. Under James Comey, the Bureau launched its “Going Dark” initiative, a multi-million dollar investigation of encrypted technologies like bitcoin, based on concerns that federal agencies are unable to snoop on encrypted communications, devices, and transactions. The program was continued by Comey’s successor, Andrew McCabe.

Bill Ottman, CEO of the free-speech friendly social network Minds, was in attendance at the President’s social media summit last week, but expressed concern at Trump’s statements about cryptocurrencies.

“While it’s totally understandable and seemingly sensible for the president to defend the dollar against bitcoin, Libra and cryptocurrency in general, the issue deserves a much more nuanced approach” said Ottman.

“[Trump] has repeatedly recognized problems associated with the Fed, inflation and their lack of economic transparency. Crypto and fiat can and should coexist synergistically.”

Gab, the internet free speech project that develops platforms and technologies aimed at bypassing Big Tech censorship (including a social network, a universal comments extension, and a web browser) , was even blunter in its assessment of Trump’s comments.

“You are wrong about this” said Gab’s official account on Twitter in a response to the President’s account. “Bitcoin is free speech money.”

Preston Byrne, a technology lawyer, fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, and Trump voter said the President was correct to criticize Facebook’s Libra coin, but is wrong on Bitcoin.

“The President’s criticism of Libra is shared on both sides of the aisle and by the wider electorate, and in my opinion is bang-on” said Byrne.

“Facebook already controls how we make social communications. Now it wants to control financial communications as well.”

Byrne suggested that Facebook might use control of a currency in the same way that they use their dominance in communications to censor conservatives.

“Folks are noticing that Big Tech is politicizing “the pipes,” such as payments or publishing, in a way that the old banks or AT&T would have never done,” Byrne continued.

“Just look at what the tech companies have done to demonetize conservative YouTubers, unperson controversial speakers such as Alex Jones, cut off firearms businesses such as the Firearms Blog or cut off infrastructure services to social media companies like Gab.”

Byrne urged the President to differentiate corporate-controlled cryptocurrencies like Facebook’s Libra from decentralized tech like Bitcoin.

“The President is clearly advised on Bitcoin by Steve Mnuchin and others in the Treasury Department and the Fed, at the direction of bank lobbyists,” said Byrne.

“This view doesn’t really accord with what’s going on with the main regulatory agencies, the SEC and CFTC, which deal with crypto questions on a daily basis, in their capacity as subject matter experts, and have adopted a more innovation-forward approach.”

Far from being more susceptible to crime than other forms of monetary exchange, Byrne also pointed out that using Bitcoin to commit crime, with its public ledger of all transactions, is “actually a really good way to get arrested.”

Are you a source at Facebook, Google, or any other corporation who wants to confidentially blow the whistle on wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari securely at allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.

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