President Joe Biden nominated a highly controversial figure to serve as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), sparking widespread backlash from Republicans dedicated to ensuring the nominee would not be confirmed.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events on Thursday, Biden seemed to recognize the opposition and announced that he had withdrawn the nomination of former ATF agent David Chipman, Fox News reported.
“Opposed us at every turn”
Since serving in the bureau, Chipman has gained a reputation as a vociferously outspoken activist for new gun control laws.
Of course, the president and other prominent Democrats blamed the GOP and gun lobbyists as the reason for the withdrawal nomination.
In a statement on the matter, Biden reiterated his prior praise for the “distinguished” activist and argued that he would have made an “exemplary” director of the ATF.
He then shifted to a tone of withering criticism toward Senate Republicans, accusing them of siding with “gun manufacturers” in opposition to “commonsense” gun control measures.
The president went so far as to assert that the GOP has “opposed us at every turn” as his administration attempts to address gun crime. His statement also included the insinuation that Chipman’s confirmation in the Senate was blocked entirely by Republicans.
“He wasn’t able to muster the support”
That is demonstrably incorrect, however, as Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim explained in a tweet. She pointed out that Chipman could have been confirmed solely on the strength of a united Democratic caucus in an evenly divided chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.
“Chipman couldn’t get confirmed because he wasn’t able to muster the support of Senate Democrats. Republicans weren’t the reason his nomination to the ATF failed,” she wrote.
To be sure, Senate Republicans were largely united in opposition to Chipman’s nomination and a number of prominent gun-rights groups spoke out against his confirmation.
Donald Trump Jr. led a lobbying effort to convince moderate Democrats to join the cause, however, and some current and former ATF agents added to the complaints about Chipman and the direction he would likely take the bureau.
In addition to being clearly out of step with pro-gun agents and having no credibility with the gun industry, complaints included accusations that Chipman acted like a bully and pursued reprisals against those beneath him while at the ATF.