White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a barrage of reporter’s questions about meetings that Biden Administration officials have had with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. They wanted to know what the purpose of those meetings was with someone who now faces several fraud and money laundering charges.
Bankman-Fried is facing significant controversy since it has been revealed that he commingled funds between the cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX and the sister trading firm Alameda Research. This caused the loss of billions of assets due to customers rushing to withdraw their balances.
In the weeks after his company’s bankruptcy, the entrepreneur’s political connections started rising to the surface. Bankman-Fried had donated $39 million to Democrats just before the midterm elections and he had at least four meetings at the White House with top officials like Steve Richetti and Bruce Reed.
Jean-Pierre faced questions about those meetings and was asked to give “any sort of summary of what has been discussed” during the Tuesday press briefing.
The White House press secretary responded that the meetings focused on “pandemic prevention” and “general information on the cryptocurrency industry” with Bankman-Fried.
“The White House regularly engages with officials from a range of industries and sectors, including leaders in business and labor and nonprofits,” Jean-Pierre said.
It was also revealed that Bankman-Fried was the second-largest donor to Biden’s last campaign for the White House. So Jean-Pierre had previously been asked if Democrats should return the funds that he donated, but she declined to answer that question by invoking the Hatch Act. In Tuesday’s briefing, she restated her position on that question saying, “I don’t have anything to share or any change of my comments that I’ve made before on this.”
The Senate Majority PAC, which focuses on electing Democrats to the upper chamber of Congress, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, all issued statements about returning the money donated by Bankman-Fried as bankruptcy lawyers seek to get back funds on behalf of customers and investors.