On the Margin Newsletter: Inside Trump’s ‘monumental’ meeting with BTC miners

Biden’s team hasn’t yet been as responsive on this issue as the former president, Marathon Digital execs say

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Former President Donald Trump | lev radin/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Welcome to the On the Margin Newsletter, brought to you by Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Here’s what we unpack today: 

  • A look inside Trump’s milestone meeting with bitcoin miners, from the perspective of Marathon Digital execs.
  • There was no shortage of economic data to digest this week. Scroll for the CPI or FOMC details you might have missed.
  • A Democratic congressman says the right messaging will be key to further bipartisan crypto policy efforts.

‘Monumental’ miner meeting?

T-minus five months to the US presidential election (less, in fact), and former President Donald Trump has a meeting with bitcoin mining execs under his belt. 

It was a humid Tuesday (I can only imagine) in Florida. Marathon Digital CFO Salman Khan, along with Jayson Browder, the mining giant’s VP of government affairs, joined other industry peers in Mar-a-lago’s tea room.

“Around 30% of the hash rate on planet Earth was in the room,” Browder told Blockworks. “So it was quite, I think, a monumental meeting.”

Trump was at the front, Browder recalled. Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., was to his left. The former president’s policy advisers and execs from nearly a dozen mining firms (i.e. Riot Platforms, CleanSpark) attended as well. 

At one point, Trump looked upon an ASIC machine — made by California-based Auradine — that the Marathon leaders brought. 

“He held it in his own hands, and he said it’s a beautiful American technology,” Khan noted.

He and Browder shared with Trump specific policy proposals, which they declined to detail. But Browder noted the overarching messages they left with him: “We want our industry to be treated fairly” and “we want to build an incredible business here in the US.”

An obvious question would be whether this was simply a publicity stunt by Trump. A ploy for votes in an election year, perhaps? As a convicted felon in a tight election, Trump can’t afford to turn away any potential votes. Neither can his opponent, President Joe Biden, who regularly deals with voter concerns related to his age.  

It’s hard to break down the Trump sincerity question without knowing the conversation’s nuances.

Khan said Trump was well aware — “to our surprise,” he noted — of issues bothering bitcoin miners — from permit hurdles to challenges related to opening bank accounts.

Trump was said to be cognizant of the so-called “great-power competition” between the US and China and the need to stay ahead of China when it comes to AI (a segment increasingly supported by BTC miners). 

Hence Trump’s comments about wanting “all the remaining bitcoin to be made in the USA,” as per his post on Truth Social. 

Trump appeared to have already gotten to the “aha moment” many reach after educating themselves about bitcoin, Khan added. 

Said another way, Trump didn’t sound phony to the Marathon leaders. Even if he had, I would guess the industry doesn’t so much care about which politicians are listening to them, or why — just that they’re being heard.

Trump also knew of Biden’s historically strained relationship with the crypto and BTC mining industries, which he seemed to take advantage of. There was the EIA emergency survey of bitcoin miners (eventually dropped); a proposed tax on miners’ electricity usage (also dropped); and Biden’s veto of Joint Resolution 109

“He specifically called out each one of those issues in our meeting, and we appreciate that he understands the dynamics that have been happening,” Browder said — adding he doesn’t expect this dialogue with Trump to be “one and done.”     

Still, crypto is not a partisan issue, the Marathon execs stressed. They’d be “more than excited” to meet with others, including Biden. 

The crypto voter is “an increasingly important force” in the upcoming election, said Blockchain Association CEO Kristin Smith. That makes Trump’s meeting a “strategic step” in his embrace of blockchain tech and the country’s 50 million-plus crypto users, she added.  

“We encourage President Biden to follow Congress’s lead and consider outreach and engagement with our industry,” Smith told Blockworks, also calling it a non-partisan issue.

The ball is in Biden’s court, it would appear. Or the ASIC is in his datacenter?

Bottom line, miners want to chat. At this point, it seems politically foolish not to at least lend an ear.

Ben Strack

14%

The percentage of Bitfarms shares that Riot Platforms now owns after its latest purchase of roughly 1.4 million more. 

Riot looked to take over Bitfarms outright in a deal ultimately rejected by the rival bitcoin miner. Riot said it could choose to further increase its position in the company, or not. Bitfarms seeks to at least evaluate all its options before agreeing to a potential takeover.

This remains a story to watch, as Riot acquiring Bitfarms could shake up the mining sector and spur more deals across the space.

Did You Notice

It was a week chock-full of economic data with the latest CPI report and the Fed’s interest rate decision. Here are the highlights: 

  • May CPI came in softer than most forecasted, sending risk assets higher. Prices are slowly but surely inching lower, except for those pesky housing figures that rose in May to 0.18 — from 0.172 in April. 
  • The Fed opted to hold interest rates, but the key part of this FOMC update was the projection material. Central bankers now expect only one rate cut before the end of the year. Even so, Fed Fund futures rates still show a 60% chance of a September cut.
  • The US Producer Prices Index (PPI) growth for May dropped on Thursday, and, like CPI, decreased month over month. The headline index came in 0.2% lower, just under analyst expectations. Now all eyes will be on PCE — the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge — due on June 28. 

Casey Wagner

Crypto can get Democrats on board. Just phrase it the right way. 

One of crypto’s biggest cheerleaders in Washington is not seeking re-election. But he is confident that momentum to push policy forward can continue with the right messaging. 

“Looking back at this Congress with probably not a lot of success on bigger bipartisan issues, I’m very optimistic that this could be one of the bright spots,” Rep. Wiley Nickel, D-N.C., said of crypto cooperation on Capitol Hill. 

Nickel appeared in New York Thursday alongside 600 industry leaders at Coinbase’s second annual State of Crypto summit. 

“The point I think that was important for me to make over and over is that Gary Gensler and voices like Elizabeth Warren are not the only voices in the Democratic Party on this issue,” he said.

The comments come weeks after the US House passed the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (aka FIT21), which seeks to clarify the roles of the SEC and CFTC. It now heads to the Senate

Nickel said he is hopeful senators will make productive changes to the legislation and send an even better version back to the House. 

The congressman, whose term ends in January 2025, noted late last year he would not seek re-election this November — citing redistricting in North Carolina likely to make the state more right-leaning. 

He did add that he hopes to flip a North Carolina Senate seat blue in 2026 when Sen. Thom Tillis’ seat will be up for grabs. 

Casey Wagner

Bulletin Board

  • Stocks and cryptos look like they’re headed into the weekend lower. Bitcoin was well below the $70k mark, trading around $65,400 while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes were down around 0.2% and 0.1%, respectively, just ahead of the close. 
  • The New York Attorney General’s office said Friday it recovered $50 million from Gemini for “defrauded investors” as part of a settlement agreement. 
  • SEC Commissioner Mark Uyeda highlighted the potential importance of tokenization during a conference this morning. Find the full remarks here.

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

Explore the growing intersection between crypto, macroeconomics, policy and finance with Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Subscribe to the On the Margin newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.

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