John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, has been on a whirlwind tour promoting his new tell-all book.
Trump has hit back at many of the book’s claims—trying, and failing, to get the publication of the book blocked.
With the November 2020 election fast approaching and Trump’s deteriorating relationship with China expected to remain a major issue, Trump’s order to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to focus on a bitcoin clampdown over negotiating a China trade deal could have deep ramifications.
“Don’t be a trade negotiator,” Trump reportedly told Mnuchin in May 2018, ordering him instead to: “Go after bitcoin [for fraud].”
“If you don’t want me on trade, fine, your economic team will execute whatever you want,” Mnuchin shot back at Trump, according to an excerpt from Bolton’s new book obtained by the Washington Examiner.
In February of this year, Mnuchin struck a blow to bitcoin, warning “significant” new bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulations are on their way.
Trump’s order to Mnuchin came in the aftermath of bitcoin’s epic 2017 rally, which saw the bitcoin price explode from under $1,000 per bitcoin at the beginning of the year to around $20,000 by December.
Bitcoin’s rally thrust it and similar technologies onto the global stage and made many early adopters overnight millionaires.
Since then, the bitcoin price fell considerably before being boosted last year by Facebook’s bitcoin-inspired cryptocurrency, libra—something that put bitcoin back on Trump’s radar.
Last year, Trump unleashed a scathing attack on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, branding them “unregulated crypto assets” and based on “thin air” following Facebook’s unveiling of its libra cryptocurrency plans that he feared could undermine the dominance of the U.S. dollar.
Trump’s attack on bitcoin was cheered by the cryptocurrency community, which saw it as a validation of bitcoin’s threat to the financial status quo.
Trump’s fears that a Facebook-backed cryptocurrency could weaken the dollar were echoed by other governments and central banks around the world, with regulators slapping Facebook down and forcing it to significantly pare back its libra plans.
However, Facebook isn’t alone in looking to use bitcoin technology to compete with the dollar.
China is poised to launch a digital version of its yuan based on bitcoin’s blockchain technology that some think could challenge U.S. dollar dominance.
Earlier this month, an influential group in China revealed plans for an East Asia cryptocurrency scheme that could see a basket of currencies combined to take on bitcoin, Facebook’s libra and the dollar.
If China is able to significantly move ahead with its plans before the November 2020 U.S. election, Trump’s mid-2018 order to “go after bitcoin” could end up looking remarkably prescient.