Is Biden shifting strategy on digital assets ahead of Trump debate?

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Long before election season in the United States, many crypto holders criticized President Joe Biden, Democratic Party lawmakers and officials he nominated to serve as regulators in his administration. Though the U.S. president has infrequently made public statements on crypto, that position may be changing as Election Day approaches. 

Since taking office, President Biden — for better or worse — may have helped push crypto further into the mainstream conversation for presidential politics. Weeks after his inauguration, he nominated Gary Gensler as chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In March 2022, he signed an executive order to establish a regulatory framework on digital assets. In 2024, the U.S. president announced and followed through with a veto of a resolution to overturn an SEC accounting rule on banks and crypto.

Many U.S.-based crypto users also seem to blame President Biden for lawmakers in his party voting against legislation and policies they consider positive for digital assets. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has been one of the most vocal anti-crypto voices in Congress, often associating digital assets with the financing of terrorism and illicit activities.

Under Gensler, the SEC stepped up enforcement actions against crypto firms, and cases are pending against Ripple, Coinbase, Kraken and others. Publicly, the SEC chair has maintained that a “come in and talk to us” approach was the best path crypto projects could take to legally offer their products and services in the United States. However, many companies have criticized the regulator for inconsistent enforcement of securities laws — most recently, with reports that the SEC considered labeling Ether (SEC) a security.

Trump’s sordid history on crypto

In contrast, former U.S. President Donald Trump moved from telling his treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, to “go after” Bitcoin (BTC) in 2018 while he was president to calling cryptocurrencies “not money” and “based on thin air” in 2019. After leaving office in January 2021, Trump said BTC seemed “like a scam” and that cryptocurrencies were “potentially a disaster waiting to happen.” 

Source: Donald Trump

Only starting in December 2022 did Trump seem more willing to embrace digital assets, launching a non-fungible token (NFT) collection — just a few weeks after he announced his reelection bid for the U.S. presidency on Nov. 15, 2022. After beating out other pro-crypto Republican candidates in 2023 and 2024, he announced his campaign would accept crypto and planned to have all remaining Bitcoin mined in the United States.

President Biden softening on crypto?

Trump’s mercurial position on crypto and other issues has many questioning whether his reelection would be a positive outcome for digital assets. Regardless of the former president’s true intentions, reports have suggested that President Biden may also be considering appealing to crypto voters by softening his position on digital asset legislation, accepting campaign donations in Bitcoin and influencing related policy at the SEC.

After President Biden said he would veto an SEC rule on banks handling crypto, the White House issued a notice suggesting he would not do the same for the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century (FIT21) Act. Though the U.S. president opposed the digital asset legislation, he added that he was “eager to work with Congress” for an alternative bill to establish a regulatory framework for crypto. A House vote resulted in 71 Democratic lawmakers joining with a majority of Republicans to pass FIT21.

“The Biden Administration is shifting its tone on the digital asset sector,” said analysts at Pantera Capital in a June 18 letter. “There have been reports of Biden’s re-election campaign reaching out to players in the blockchain space requesting guidance on crypto policy moving forward.”

Related: Rep. Emmer says crypto is nonpartisan, opponents are ‘fading’

Moe Vela, a former adviser to then-Vice President Biden, told Cointelegraph that both Republican and Democratic candidates needed to “be very clear about where they stand in the future of the regulatory environment that they would create under their respective administrations.” He added that both candidates had “no choice” but to acknowledge the impact of the crypto industry, suggesting that donations in digital assets were one such step.

“I think it’s inevitable they must, in my opinion,” said Vela on the Biden campaign accepting crypto. “It’s integral [for] both candidates if they want to appeal to the over 60 million U.S. investors in crypto, many of whom are disproportionately Gen Z and Millennial and young professionals — that is a huge swath of potential voters.”

Cointelegraph reached out to President Biden’s reelection campaign for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Remember, remember the 5th of November

President Biden and former President Trump have less than seven days to prepare for a June 27 presidential debate, in which they will face off against each other in person for the first time since 2020. They are also scheduled for a second debate on Sept. 10. Trump already has support from many in the crypto industry, including Gemini co-founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and executives from major mining firms.

Some in the space who suggest they plan to vote for President Biden tout the “nonpartisan” nature of crypto rather than his policies or cite Trump’s criminal conviction and legal troubles. Others outside the U.S. who are ineligible to vote still expressed concern about the ecosystem’s future in the United States. 

“I don’t like Bitcoin being aligned with one party but not the other,” Mauricio Di Bartolomeo, co-founder of crypto investment platform Ledn, told Cointelegraph. “You’re going to have an issue where the ones that are [pro-crypto] support it, build towards it, then it switches and then these guys undo all the work the pro-Bitcoin people did. The best case for us is to show both parties why America should have access to Bitcoin.”

Election Day in the United States will be Nov. 5. Trump will be sentenced in New York on July 11, just a few days before the Republican National Convention nominates the party’s presidential candidate. The former U.S. president has been found liable for sexual assault, convicted of 34 felony counts as part of efforts to cover up hush money payments to a porn star and found liable for fraud connected to his businesses.

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