When asked what the White House is doing to push along the nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Exposives during Wednesday’s press briefing, Jen Psaki defended President Biden’s nominee and attacked Republicans.
“We knew this wouldn’t be easy,” Psaki said of Chipman’s all-but-stalled nomination process. “ATF hasn’t had a confirmed director in six years and only one confirmed director since the position became senate-confirmable. We’ve been eyes wide open into the challenge from the beginning,” she added.
PSAKI: Republican opposition to David Chipman as ATF Director “speaks volumes to their complete refusal to tackle the spike in crime we’ve seen over the last 18 months.” pic.twitter.com/L75DHcEc6A
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 4, 2021
“We are disappointed by the fact that many Republicans are moving in lockstep to try to hold up his nomination and handcuff the chief federal law enforcement agency charged with fighting gun crimes. It speaks volumes to their complete refusal to tackle the spike in crime we’ve seen over the last 18 months,” Psaki claimed, echoing her previously WaPo-debunked implication that Republicans were the ones seeking to defund the police and endanger American communities.
As Katie pointed out, Psaki’s attempt to blame Republicans for Biden’s deeply-flawed nominee doesn’t pass muster:
Psaki just argued after being asked about Senator King’s (who caucuses with Dems) opposition to ATF nominee David Chipman that:
1) Opposition is only from Republicans
2) That Republicans have no interest in solving rising crime
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) August 4, 2021
An additional inconvenient truth for Psaki is that, as even some of his own former colleagues explain, Chipman is not the kind of person ATF needs leading the bureau if the goal is to cut down on the violent crime Psaki mentioned.
“Any ATF agent who has worked cases and actually handcuffed the worst of the worst violent suspects, as my record of convictions shows I did over my career before I retired, knows this,” wrote an anonymous former ATF agent responding to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL):
Our nation’s inner cities and those most vulnerable within them don’t need ‘gun safety measures.’ Rather, they need ATF’s leadership, powerful federal firearms statutes targeting violent offenders, and strong federal sentencing to keep these offenders off the streets once we, or our state and local partners, arrest them (the opposite of the ‘revolving door’ we encounter in so many of our great cities). ATF needs a confirmed director. We simply don’t need one who, for reasons I do not understand, has chosen to embrace every wrong-headed idea.
Psaki continued to offer the White House’s defense of Chipman saying “this is someone who has 25 years in distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent” with “the exact set of skills and experience we need to revitalize the bureau’s work to crack down on gun trafficking and keep guns out of the hands of criminals. So certainly, yes, we stand by his strong qualifications and nomination.”
Psaki’s rosy view of Chipman’s career ignores information that has come to light during months of opposition that started even before President Biden announced he’d be nominating Chipman to lead the ATF in April. Contrary to what Psaki says about Chipman’s resume, his work as an anti-gun lobbyist and role in the botched Waco, Texas raid of the Branch Davidians by FBI and ATF agents poses a significant hurdle to his confirmation.
“It is disturbing that the Biden administration would nominate David Chipman to lead the ATF who not only made a career of advocating for the restriction of Americans’ liberties, but also was present and took part in the ATF’s failed operation at Waco in 1993,” explained an April memo from the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Chipman’s prior testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee only raised more concerns when he called for the AR-15 to be banned and offered an “insanely broad” definition of the term “assault weapon.”
When the Judiciary Committee subsequently voted on advancing Chipman’s nomination for a confirmation vote before the full Senate, they tied 11-11 meaning Biden’s nominee did not receive a favorable recommendation and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will need to rescue the nominee if he’s to receive a final vote.
Chipman’s in-limbo status means there’s been time for more concerning information to come to light, including “allegations that Chipman made racist comments [and] stunted the careers of black ATF agents,” but as Matt covered, there will be no more hearings to ask Chipman to explain his increasingly sullied background.