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Tag: Senate

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

Former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach

By Steve Neavling

A Senate committee on Thursday was deadlocked on whether to advance President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-11 along party lines. 

Democrats will have a chance to advance Steven Dettelbach to the floor with a procedural maneuver.  

The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since 2015. 

“Gun violence continues to plague this country and I believe that it’s critical that ATF has a strong, Senate-confirmed leader in place to ensure the agency is able to achieve its mission of protecting our communities from both violent criminals as well as the illegal use of firearms,” Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said during the hearing.  

Biden’s first pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, couldn’t get enough votes in the Senate for confirmation last year. 

Dettelbach was confirmed by the Senate to serve as attorney for the U.S. District Court in Northern Ohio, a position he held from 2009 to 2016.

Dettelbach has advocated for reinstating the assault weapons ban and universal background checks on firearms purchases.

Dettelbach, who ran an unsuccessful campaign to serve as attorney general in Ohio in 2018, has been working in the private sector for BakerHostetler.

Senate Confirms Tucson Police Chief Magnus to Lead CBP

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus is confirmed to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

The Senate on Tuesday approved President Biden’s nomination of Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

The Senate voted 50-47 to confirm the nomination, making Magnus the first openly gay CBP commissioner and the first confirmed leader of the agency since 2019. 

Magnus, 61, has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016 and has been a vocal critic of some of Trump’s immigration policies. He’s also supported the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“It’s clear to me that Chief Magnus is going to handle this job with hard work and a sense of decency. He shares the view that enforcing our immigration laws and treating people humanely are not mutually exclusive,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore, said after Magnus’ confirmation hearing, The Arizona Republic reports.

Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border problem and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

During the confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last month, Magnus sought to assuage some Republicans by signaling support for two of former President Trump’s most controversial policies. He said he would consider finishing some of the border wall that the Biden administration has stopped and indicated he supported the Trump-era public health order that authorizes the rapid removal of migrants and asylum-seekers without an immigration hearing. 

Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman floundered in the Senate after every Republican and Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to support him.

Capitol Police Exodus Followed Jan. 6 Insurrection

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

Since the Jan. 6 riot in Washington D.C., about 130 Capitol Police officers have left their jobs, a Senate panel was told Tuesday. 

There are now more than 230 vacancies in the roughly 2,000-officer force. 

“They are down significantly (in) officers and they need to bring … folks on that can augment that,” Michael Bolton, the inspector general for Capitol Police, told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, USA Today reports.

The Capitol riot left about 140 officers injured, and five have died since. Two of the deaths were Capitol Police officers, including Brian Sicknick, who died from a stroke the following day, and Howard Liebengood, who committed suicide days later.

While Bolton said morale has improved since the riot, he said there are concerns about overtime and recruiting. 

A House task force in April recommended hiring 854 officers, including 350 to reduce an alarming increase in overtime. 

Congress still hasn’t decided on funding for the department. 

“This work is crucial to securing the work of the Capitol,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who heads the committee, said. 

Retired FBI Agent Vies for State Senate Seat in Texas

Retired FBI Agent Tim Reid. Photo: Campaign

By Steve Neavling

A retired FBI agent is running for a seat on the state Senate in Texas. 

Tim Reid, a Republican, is vying to replace retiring Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, The Amarillo Pioneer reports.

Reid worked as an FBI agent in Amarillo from 1986 to 2005, according to his press release. He now serves as director of athletics and campus safety at Ascension Academy in Amarillo, where he also teaches geopolitics, geography, and crime scene forensics. 

Reid previously served as a member of the Canyon ISD Board of Trustees. 

The primary election is scheduled for March 1, 2022. 

Biden’s Former ATF Nominee Says ‘It’s Easier to Buy a Gun Than a Beer’

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

Steve Neavling

David Chipman, President Biden’s former pick to lead the ATF, said the Senate’s failure to approve his nomination would exacerbate gun violence in the U.S. 

“I have, from 25 years as an ATF agent, and largely for ten years after that, committed myself to one thing: preventing gun violence in this country,” Chipman told “CBS Evening News” in an exclusive interview. “To oppose me must mean that you’re not for preventing gun violence.”

In September, Biden withdrew Chipman’s nomination after Senate Democrats were unable to get enough votes to approve him. 

Chipman, a gun owner and former ATF agent, had come 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. 

Chipman said it’s too easy to buy guns in America. 

“I think the real conversation we’re having, and I want to be clear, is the fear is it’s gonna be harder for people who sell guns to sell guns absent any accountability for profiting from selling them to criminals and terrorists. The reality is in much of America it’s easier to buy a gun than a beer,” he said. “The problem is the gun industry profits by gun violence itself because it’s the fear that you’re gonna get shot, that you run out and buy a gun.” 

The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since 2015. Asked what the ATF needs to effectively combat gun violence, Chipman responded, “A leader, the funding to do their job, and the ability to support state and local law enforcement, which is why ATF was created in the first place.” 

Magnus, Biden’s Nominee to Lead CBP, Takes Hot Seat During Senate Confirmation Hearing

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, picked to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, President Biden’s nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fielded tough questions about border security and immigration during a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday. 

Magnus sought to assuage some Republicans by signaling support for two of former President Trump’s most controversial policies. He said he would consider finishing some of the border wall that the Biden administration has stopped and indicated he supported the Trump-era public health order that authorizes the rapid removal of migrants and asylum-seekers without an immigration hearing, The Washington Post reports.

Magnus also told the Senate Finance Committee that border security should be balanced with humane treatment of migrants. 

“I think humanity has to be part of the discussion early and often throughout the careers of CBP members,” he said.

“We do our jobs enforcing the law, but how we engage with the public, even the public we may be arresting, is what defines us as professionals, and it’s something we have a moral obligation to do,” Magnus said. 

Magnus, 60, doesn’t need Republican support to advance to a full Senate vote as long as all of the Democrats on the committee back him. 

Magnus, who has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016, was a vocal critic of some of Trump’s immigration policies and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border crisis and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

Magnus also would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. 

Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman floundered in the Senate after every Republican and Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to support him.

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. 

Wray Apologizes to Larry Nassar Victims for FBI’s Handling of Case, Pledges to Do Better

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in February.

FBI Director Christopher Wray apologized Wednesday for the bureau’s “totally unacceptable” failures in the Larry Nassar case, telling senators he had fired an agent who was involved in the case.

“I’m sorry that so many people let you down again and again,” Wray said to the victims while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am especially sorry that there were people at the F.B.I. who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”

Wray’s testimony comes two months after the Justice Department’s Inspector General concluded that the Indianapolis Field Office “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.”

After reading the report, Wray said he wasted no time firing Michael Langeman, who was a supervisory special agent in the Indianapolis Field Office. 

“When I received the inspector general’s report and saw that the supervisory special agent in Indianapolis had failed to carry out even the most basic parts of the job, I immediately made sure he was no longer performing the functions of a special agent,” Wray said. “And I can now tell you that individual no longer works for the FBI in any capacity.”

Star Olympic gymnast Simone Biles testified at the hearing and criticized the bureau for turning a “blind eye” to the sexual abuse that she and hundreds of other young athletes had endured at the hands of Nassar, the former national team doctor. 

“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, but I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles, 24, said.

Wray said the bureau has strengthened polices and training for agents to properly handle abuse cases and pledged to ensure it never happened again. 

“On no planet is what happened in this case acceptable,” Wray said.