Crypto leaders meet with Biden adviser, lawmakers to discuss regulatory tensions

The $2 trillion cryptocurrency giants met with a senior White House official in Washington on Wednesday to express their frustration with the Biden administration’s regulatory crackdown on the industry and to explore whether their strained relationship can be repaired.

The event, held at the Willard Hotel, within walking distance of the White House, was hosted by two prominent Democrats, California congressman Ro Khanna, who represents a district that includes the uber-rich tech enclave of Silicon Valley, and billionaire tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban, a cryptocurrency investor and advocate.

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About three dozen people attended the exclusive, invitation-only event, which included prominent Democratic Party politicians Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colorado) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York); Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse; SkyBridge Capital CEO Anthony Scaramucci; prominent former hedge fund manager and cryptocurrency investor Mike Novogratz; and officials from major cryptocurrency firms and trade groups.

Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to President Biden, also attended the meeting, but another guest, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients, was not. Dunn spoke briefly, acknowledging that the dialogue with the industry had not been as productive as it could have been. She then listened to attendees’ criticism of the administration’s treatment of digital assets and how the Securities and Exchange Commission’s myriad enforcement actions are hurting businesses and reducing market competition.

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MEET THE PRESS — Pictured: (from left) Anita Dunn, former White House communications director, appears on “Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 4, 2014. (Photo by William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images) ((Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

If the meeting was intended to smooth over tensions between cryptocurrency advocates and the Biden White House, it is unclear whether it achieved its goal.

“You guys suck at cryptocurrency,” one participant told Dunn in a conversation that FOX Business described as “respectful but direct.”

“I’m a Democrat through and through, but you guys really have it wrong,” said another participant.


Biden’s Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has been courting votes and campaign contributions from the industry, with some success in the face of the administration’s regulatory crackdown. The Winklevoss twins, of Facebook fame and founders of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, have donated about $1.7 million to Trump’s campaign to support his stated mission to “end Biden’s war on crypto” and take a softer regulatory approach than the current occupant of the White House and its chief financial regulator, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.

Khanna did not immediately respond to Fox Business’ request for comment, but Cuban described the meeting as mutually beneficial.

“I think it went well,” Cuban said in an email. “The right people were there from the Senate, House, and White House. I think we’ll see changes in how the Biden WH and Democrats support crypto in general.”

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he thinks the “wake-up call” is good for business. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Several other respondents to the Fox Business interview agreed with Cuban’s assessment that the participants effectively conveyed a message of their frustration to Dunn and the Biden White House.

Some attendees criticized the White House’s decision to reappoint anti-crypto SEC Commissioner Caroline Crenshaw, a Democrat who voted against the agency’s approval to launch 11 bitcoin spot ETFs in January. Gillibrand, meanwhile, explained the regulatory complexities of digital assets, including the dispute between the SEC and its sister agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, over who should have jurisdiction to regulate the $2 trillion cryptocurrency market.

Gillibrand also used the opportunity to present her new stablecoin legislation to Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) as an important example of why the cryptocurrency industry needs proper regulation.

Dunn said that while she is not a policy person, she will certainly take the industry’s concerns to the White House and continue talks.


“Her tone, demeanor, and body language told me she was taking this seriously and really engaging with what people were saying,” Sheila Warren, president of the Crypto Council for Innovation, told FOX Business. “She definitely wanted to learn more.”

“I was much more optimistic going out than I was going in,” said Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s chief legal officer. “I think it’s a sign of progress that Anita Dunn came in, even as she’s dealing with the NATO summit and a very tense period of the Biden campaign.”

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U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump participate in the CNN presidential debate at the CNN studios on June 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. President Biden and former President Trump are (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Attendees also told FOX Business that Democrats who attended the meeting realize they are playing catch-up in drumming up cryptocurrency support for Biden’s campaign, which is in the midst of an existential crisis following the president’s disastrous performance against Trump last month.

“Republicans play chess and Democrats play checkers,” said one participant, who wished to remain anonymous. “There is no advantage to voting for being anti-crypto.”


While most attendees agreed that the meeting with Dunn was an important first step toward a more positive dialogue between the cryptocurrency industry and the administration, they said the ball is now in the White House’s court.

“Words are easy, action is hard but necessary,” Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said in a post on X. “Choose wisely. Voters are paying attention.”