Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on President Biden Saturday to withdraw the nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, citing a new report that he failed to disclose an interview with a Chinese-run propaganda network.
“The Senate has spent quite enough time flirting with this profoundly misguided nomination,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “The American people deserve a trustworthy steward leading the ATF, with a record of respecting their rights and respecting his or her colleagues. It is time the Biden administration revisit this decision and send us somebody who fits that description.”
Mr. Chipman, a former career official at ATF, has come under scrutiny for his work as an adviser with Giffords, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws. His nomination already was on shaky ground, with independent Sen. Angus King of Maine and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana saying they were undecided.
Mr. Tester was meeting on Saturday with Vice President Kamala Harris, although the subject of their huddle wasn’t immediately clear.
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Mr. Chipman’s nomination “has gotten even worse” in recent days with the report that he failed to disclose a 2012 interview on a Chinese state-run media network, China Global Television Network. In the interview, he discussed the government’s response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, in which 28 people were killed and two were injured.
The network is “an arm of China’s propaganda machine” and is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, the New York Times reported in 2019. On the same day as the Sandy Hook mass shooting, a man with a knife wounded 23 students in an attack on a school building in central China, and the Chinese government reportedly ordered the network to downplay that attack and focus instead on the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Mr. Chipman did not disclose his 2012 appearance on CGTN in at least 16 pages of written responses to the Senate‘s questions about previous interviews and quotes he provided to media, Fox News reported.
Mr. McConnell said the nominee had already shown himself to be “the wrong choice” for ATF due to “a long record of hostility to lawful gun owners [and] a variety of complaints from those who’d worked with him in the past.”
“Mr. Chipman has suggested radical and sweeping steps like banning private sales that are lawful, overriding state laws, and imposing sweeping restrictions on a class of weapons he has yet to clearly define,” Mr. McConnell said. “Among some current and former ATF agents, he’s earned a concerning reputation as a, quote, ‘bully’ and ‘activist’ whose extreme views threatened to undermine the trust the agency needs to conduct oversight. So even a few days ago, it was not difficult to realize this is an instance in which the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, should take a pass.”
He said the TV interview that Mr. Chipman failed to disclose “wasn’t just any TV appearance — Mr. Chipman had granted an interview to a propaganda network overseen by the Chinese government.”
“A new letter to the Senate signed by seven former career ATF agents summed it up this way. Mr. Chipman’s views and record would, quote, ‘create serious and long-lasting problems for the Bureau and the effective execution of its law enforcement mission,’” Mr. McConnell said.