President Trump Wanted to 'Go After Bitcoin' in 2018, Bolton Book Reveals

President Donald Trump said last year that he is "not a fan" of cryptocurrencies, but an excerpt from an upcoming book by his ex-national security adviser John Bolton indicates the dislike of bitcoin predates those comments on the subject.

According to Bolton's memoir, The Room Where It Happened, Trump urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to "go after bitcoin" in May 2018, reportedly referencing the crypto during a conversation about trade sanctions and tariffs on China.

Details of the conversation were reported by the Washington Examiner, which obtained a copy of the title promising fresh revelations about the Trump administration.

It was not immediately clear what, if any, actions were taken against the currency as a result of the order. At the time, the crypto was stumbling in the wake of an unprecedented boom the year prior, which saw values rise to almost $20,000 per coin.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is solely traded online—without the traditional banking infrastructure. All transactions are recorded using blockchain technology.

In July 2019, after Facebook started publicizing its own vision of a distributed financial network called "Libra," Trump spoke out against cryptocurrencies on Twitter, claiming they are "not money" and are "highly volatile and based on thin air."

"Unregulated crypto assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity," Trump said, specifically referencing Facebook's project.

Trump continued: "We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever, both dependable and reliable. It is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the world, and it will always stay that way. It is called the United States Dollar!"

I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019

With the president's position clear, Mnuchin then reinforced the stance in press briefings and media appearances, repeatedly criticizing cryptocurrencies.

On July 15, three days after Trump's Twitter post, the treasury secretary publicly raised "serious concerns" about Facebook's digital currency and the "growing misuse of virtual currencies by money launderers, terrorist financiers, and other bad players."

"Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking. Many players have attempted to use cryptocurrencies to fund their malign behavior. This is indeed a national security issue," Mnuchin said at the time.

Before essentially going viral in 2017, Bitcoin was regularly associated with trades on the so-called "dark web" and known for its links to criminal activity on the internet.

Mnuchin called on crypto firms to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and said they have to register with FinCEN, the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Speaking to CNBC on July 14, Mnuchin again called on Facebook to adhere to banking laws. "We like payment systems that reduce costs. But we don't support unregulated bad actors using anything–any type of currency or cryptocurrency," he said.

Bolton's memoir is scheduled to go on sale June 23. It has faced delays due to pressure from the Trump administration. This week, the Justice Department appealed to a judge to halt publication of the book, claiming that it contained classified information.

The upcoming title, which is already printed and distributed to booksellers, has shot to the top of Amazon's Best Sellers list.

Today, Trump lashed out against his former national security adviser as "a disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war." He tweeted: "Bolton is incompetent!"

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable meeting on seniors in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC, June 15, 2020. - President Donald Trump holds a roundtable discussion with senior citizens called Fighting for Americas Seniors on Monday. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty