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 WatersThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Video depicting Trump killing media, critics draws backlash Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics Cindy McCain condemns video of fake Trump shooting political opponents, late husband MORE (D-Calif.) is planning to call in Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHouse investigators receive initial documents from top tech companies Hillicon Valley: Warren turns up heat in battle with Facebook | Instagram unveils new data privacy feature | Advocacy group seeks funding to write about Big Tech Warren turns up heat over Facebook's ad rules 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 McHenryHouse committee pressing Zuckerberg to testify on digital currency Libra House passes bill to protect cannabis industry access to banks, credit unions Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank 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.