Senate Republicans pushed back on ATF nominee David Chipman after agents raised questions about him in a report by The Reload and corroborated the existence of a complaint he made racist remarks while working for the agency.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told President Joe Biden on Thursday to drop Chipman’s nomination in response to the allegations. He said the claims combined with Chipman’s history of supporting strict new gun laws made him unworkable as an ATF director.
“In light of these credible allegations, and Mr. Chipman’s long record of anti-Second Amendment extremism, the President must withdraw Mr. Chipman’s nomination,” McConnell told The Reload.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about McConnell’s call to withdraw Chipman.
Additionally, every Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for a new hearing on Chipman to further investigate the report and access the complaints made against him. In a letter to Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) obtained by The Reload, the Republicans demanded the release of the complaints and a committee investigation into how Chipman came to work in the Detroit office well as the circumstance surrounding his departure. They noted the allegation he made comments denigrating black agents first surfaced in a June lawsuit but deserve new scrutiny now that more ATF agents corroborated their existence.
“These were serious charges, not to be taken lightly, but the fact is that it was an anonymous claim in the press without any corroboration,” the 11 Republican senators on the committee said. “That has changed. In a July 28 article at the independent news site The Reload, it was reported that multiple current and former ATF agents corroborated that they had heard that Mr. Chipman had made racially insensitive comments while serving in the Detroit field office of the agency.”
McConnell backed up the call for a new hearing if Biden is unwilling to withdraw the nomination.
“If the President won’t do the right thing, at the very least Senate Democrats must hold a second hearing and release Chipman’s entire record,” he said. “The American people deserve the full truth about Mr. Chipman’s time at ATF, including especially these racist statements.”
The Judiciary Republicans said they want two key points addressed by a new hearing.
“First, we have allegations that Mr. Chipman made racist statements about the abilities of African American ATF agents, the existence of which allegations have been confirmed by current and former ATF officials,” the Republican senators said. “Second, these allegations imply that an important field assignment in Mr. Chipman’s career was one that he allegedly was both forced first to take and then to relinquish. The first issue gets to Mr. Chipman’s character, and the second gets to his effectiveness as a leader. Both should be of paramount importance to the Judiciary Committee.”
The group noted that Chipman failed to pass out of the committee when the late June vote on his nomination ended in a tie based on party lines. While the rules allow for either the Senate minority or majority leader to bring him to the floor after a tie vote, that hasn’t been done. So, the committee still has jurisdiction over his confirmation.
“Because the Judiciary Committee still has Mr. Chipman’s nomination, it’s critical that we call him in for a public hearing to address these allegations before any move is made to advance his failed nomination to the Floor,” the Republicans said. “Furthermore, you as Chairman must lead the Judiciary Committee in calling on the Justice Department and Mr. Chipman to make public and transparent any such records referenced in these reports—in particular the two EEO complaints Mr. Chipman identified for Sen. Cruz and any related documents.”
Senator Durbin did not respond to a request for comment on the call to bring Chipman in for a second hearing.