Fact Check: Did Representative Maxine Waters Ask About Refunds For Money Lost on Stocks?

The House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on February 18 about the events surrounding the GameStop trading frenzy that took place in late January. The hearing was led by Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chair of the Financial Services Committee.

Vlad Tenev, CEO of investing app Robinhood, testified before the committee on the company's decision to restrict trading of GameStop's stock. Kenneth C. Griffin, CEO of Citadel LLC, and Gabriel Plotkin, CEO of Melvin Capital Management LP, also testified, as did Steve Huffman, CEO of social media platform Reddit, and Keith Gill, a retail investor who gained national attention for his successful investments in GameStop.

BREAKING: Maxine Waters asks “why aren’t customers entitled to a refund when they lose money on stocks?”

— litquidity (@litcapital) February 18, 2021

The Claim

On the day of the hearing, a Twitter user from Litquidity Capital claimed that Waters asked, "Why aren't customers entitled to a refund when they lose money on stocks?" Donald Trump Jr. and conservative author and commentator Dinesh D'Souza followed with quote-tweets.

For the same reason that they are not required to give the profits back when they make money on stocks https://t.co/byGXUoj5Jn

— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 21, 2021

Trump Jr. also released a video on Rumble criticizing Waters for her "fundamental non-understanding of how the stock market works."

Guys I’m trending #2 on @rumblevideo with my take on Moron Maxine & her concept of reparations for stock market losses. It’s truly hard to imagine she sits on a finance committee making trillion $ decisions!

Let go to #1 give this video a rumble & a like! https://t.co/kVHedi8l2J

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 21, 2021

The Facts

During the hearing, which lasted more than five hours, Waters' questions were directed at Tenev and Griffin, and included topics such as Robinhood's liquidity, a previous dispute between Robinhood and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the significance of Citadel's role in the market.

At no point did Waters inquire about the possibility of refunds for money lost in the stock market. In Waters opening statement, she said the focus of the hearing would be to determine how the witnesses contributed to "the market volatility surrounding GameStop and other stocks." She said, "Many Americans feel that the [trading] system is stacked against them and, no matter what, Wall Street always wins."

In describing the role of the committee and the purpose of the hearing, Waters said, "Our role as a financial services committee is to ensure fairness in our financial markets and system, robust protections for investors, and accountability of Wall Street."

Newsweek reported on January 28 that Waters intended to hold a hearing on the events surrounding GameStop's volatile stock price. In the weeks since, Waters has spoken often about the hearing. On February 5, she told financial news site Cheddar that the hearing would be "a learning experience." She told CNBC on February 17, the day before the hearing, that she would not enter the hearing with "any preconceived notions."

CNN reported on February 18 that Waters plans to hold a total of three hearings, not just on GameStop trading but the influence or hedge funds on the market and the threat to retail investors.

The Ruling

False.

Waters did not ask why customers can't obtain refunds for money lost while trading stocks.

Maxine Waters GameStop stock hearing short selling
Democratic California Representative Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, has pledged to "convene a hearing to examine the recent activity around GameStop" as a "first step in reining in ... abusive practices," like short-selling a way to make money off of stocks that fail. Chip Somodevilla/Getty