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Tag: Senate Judiciary Commitee

Biden’s Nominee to Head ATF Advances After Split Senate Panel Vote

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was deadlocked on whether to advance the nomination of David Chipman, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF. 

With a 10-10 vote, the committee was split along party lines. But in the event of a tie, the nomination still moves to the floor. 

Republicans are expected to continue opposing the nomination of Chipman, who has advocated for firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons such as AR-15s. 

“David Chipman is a partisan gun control zealot who is advocating for restricting Americans’ Second Amendment rights in calling for a ban on the most popular rifle in America – to include those already in our homes,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement.

Chipman is a gun owner and former ATF agent. 

In April, the NRA announced its plans to oppose Chipman’s nomination as part of a $2 million campaign to fight gun-control measures.

Biden has faced pressure by gun control groups to pick someone to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

Whether Biden can muster the 51 votes required to confirm a permanent leader is an open question. Republicans have blocked ATF candidates who were far friendlier to the pro-gun base. 

Comey Defends FBI’s Trump-Russia Investigation, Takes Aim at Barr

Former FBI James Comey in previous testimony, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday defended the bureau’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying it was “essential,” as Republicans dismissed the probe as politically motivated.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the Trump-Russia probe, Comey also took aim at Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the investigation was unwarranted. 

Asked about Barr’s criticism that the FBI had sufficient evidence to launch an investigation, Comey responded that he had “no idea what on earth” he meant, The Washington Post reports.

“This was an investigation that was appropriately predicated and that had to be opened, and it was in the main, conducted in the right way,” Comey said, pointing out the dozens of people who were charged as a result of the investigation. “The notion that the attorney general believes that was an illegitimate endeavor to investigate mystifies me.”

Comey also suggested Barr was “acting like the personal lawyer for the president.”

“It ought to be a concern for all of us, because we need that institution, and we need that institution to be seen as separate from our tribal warfare,” Comey said.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, setting off the special counsel investigation. 

Comey acknowledged mistakes were made, particularly with the bureau’s controversial surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. 

“I’m not looking to shirk responsibility,” he said. “The director is responsible.”

At the beginning of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized the handling of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“This is not just an abuse of power against Mr. Page and the Trump campaign,” Graham said. “This is a system failure, and you could be next.”

An inspector general’s review of the FISA process found missteps, but concluded there was no political bias.