More details about President Joe Biden’s ATF director nominee came to light on Thursday.
In two interviews David Chipman failed to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee he provides insight into his thoughts on the agents he hopes to lead. Chipman explains how he is different from other agents and why. The nominee said the reason his support for strict new gun-control laws isn’t favored by other agents is that they tend to be “a very conservative bunch, primarily of white men.”
“If you are authentic in this space you are likely to disappoint a lot of people,” Chipman said about agents’ attitudes on his work during a November 2019 event on gun control unearthed by CNN. “I think that we have to understand that law enforcement, generally, is a very conservative bunch, primarily of white men. So, the politics of this issue, as it is, sort of permeate it. I don’t believe my views are typical.”
Chipman’s nomination has remained in limbo since his confirmation hearing in May. His past controversial comments mocking gun owners, position as a paid gun-control activist, and support for strict gun laws have pushed every Republican member of the senate to publicly oppose him while several moderate Democrats have remained non-committal. A recent allegation from a black former agent that Chipman attempted to derail his career with a racially-motivated false accusation of cheating has further hampered his chances of being confirmed.
The White House has stood by Chipman despite the controversies.
“David Chipman has spent decades years in distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent and has 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 — that’s why his nomination has the support of leading law enforcement organizations,” Michael Gwin, a White House spokesman, told CNN on Thursday.
Several former agents have not stood by him, though. Seven former agents signed on to a letter opposing Chipman’s nomination last week. Additionally, a former agent who worked with Chipman told The Reload the comments unearthed by CNN show why other agents oppose him.
“Dave really just doesn’t know what ATF or this country needs,” the agent said. “We have people (mostly minorities) getting brutalized by violent crime and he wants to talk about too many white agents and assault rifles.”
The former agent said Chipman was “probably right that many police, not just ATF, are conservative” but “completely and utterly off the mark describing ATF as white and male in the way he does.” He said ATF has many black agents and managers–including the current acting director.
“So, you could easily make the simple argument that black agents succeed within ATF,” the agent said. “None of my working agent friends give two sh**s about color or gender or sexual orientation or even politics with one caveat: as long as you can do the job.”
CNN’s report comes a week after Fox News resurfaced an interview Chipman did with Chinese-state-run media that he also failed to disclose to the committee. The failure to disclose the interview with Chinese-state media, alongside the racial bias allegation, led Republicans on the committee to request a second hearing on Chipman. However, Chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) rebuffed the request last week and has not commented on Chipman’s nomination since then.