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Chipman, Biden’s Failed ATF Nominee, Says White House Abandoned Him

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, said the White House abandoned him as his nomination floundered in the Senate. 

In his first interview since Biden withdrew the nomination, Chipman told The New York Times that he had no contact with the White House, leaving him feeling like he was on “an island.”

Chipman, 55, said the Biden administration’s sole focus was on convincing Sen. Joe Manchin III, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, to support his nomination. In the end, Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to become the final vote needed for confirmation. 

“Either this was impossible to win, or the strategy failed,” Chipman said. “This was a failure.”

Chipman, a gun owner and former ATF agent, came under fire for his support of firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. He’s also a former adviser at the Giffords, a gun control group. 

The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation put up an aggressive fight to stop Chipman’s nomination and spent more than $4 million in radio and TV ads in the home states of moderate Democrats and King.

Chipman’s nomination advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee after a 10-10 vote in June. But since then, Democrats had not scheduled a confirmation vote because they weren’t sure if Chipman had enough support. 

Chipman said he was surprised the White House didn’t speak with him during the process. 

“In the back of my mind, I always thought that there would be a Plan B, but so far there hasn’t been,” Chipman said. 

In early September, Chipman finally heard from the White House. Presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti called Chipman to express regret that the nomination didn’t have enough support. 


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