Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra

Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress House approves statehood for DC in 232-180 vote MORE (D-Calif.) is planning to call in Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergPressure mounts on Facebook to rein in hate speech Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' Hillicon Valley: Pompeo floats TikTok ban | Civil rights groups slam Facebook after call | Election security funding included in proposal MORE to testify about his company's new digital currency project Libra, Waters told The Hill on Wednesday. 

Waters  floated the idea during a House Financial Services Committee hearing earlier in the day and confirmed it is something the Democrats on the committee actually plan to pursue.

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"We’ll have hearings, we’re going to continue to have investigations, we’re going to get Zuckerberg here," Waters said.

She added that her staff has not made the formal request with Facebook yet, but they plan to do so.

"The absolute public request was made today by Mr. Sherman," she said, referring to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who was the first lawmaker on the committee to call for Zuckerberg's appearance. "I’m taking that up." 

David Marcus, the head of Facebook subsidiary Calibra, testified before the House Financial Services Committee – which Waters chairs – during a marathon hearing on Wednesday. He fielded tough and sometimes aggressive questions from lawmakers over how the new digital currency could be abused by criminals.

"This is an attempt to transfer enormous power from America to Facebook and a number of its allies," Sherman said. "We need Zuckerberg here."

He referred to the digital currency, known as the Libra, as  "the "Zuck Buck" and "Zuckerberg’s baby."

Members of the committee questioned how and why Facebook plans to enter the financial services industry and raised doubts about the viability and safety of the company’s proposed cryptocurrency payments system.

Waters told The Hill she felt Marcus "skirted" several of the questions he was asked and warned the inquiry has only just begun.

"It’s a huge idea, it’s a global idea, [and] we don’t know what it is," Waters said. "Is it a bank? Is it a payment system? Is it a system that transmits money? We don’t know what it is so we’ve got to find out what it is."

"We have to ask a lot of questions, do a lot of investigation," she said.

The ranking member of the House Financial Service Committee, Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryConsumer bureau revokes payday lending restrictions The Hill's Morning Report - Capitol Hill weighs action on racial justice as protests carry on Top bank regulator announces abrupt resignation MORE (R-N.C.), told The Hill he would not get behind the effort to haul in Zuckerberg.

"I don’t think it’s necessary," he said. "Bringing in the CEO of a company about one of their projects is not the best use of our time."

"We need to better understand the technology, and I think the following hearings should be additional technologists that are in cryptocurrency space and digital currency space," he continued. "Let’s not make this about one company with one project or one highly polarizing figure of corporate America."

"I don’t think it’s additive to the conversation, nor do I think it’s gonna bring deeper understanding about the project," he added.

Waters also said she believes the committee should bring in technologists and experts on the topic of cryptocurrency.

Facebook said it does not have a comment on whether Zuckerberg would testify.

It is within the committee's power to vote to subpoena Zuckerberg if he declined to come before Congress.