Biden to make Arizona prosecutor acting ATF director

A worker walks through the empty lobby of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Center for Explosives Training and Research in Huntsville, Ala., on Jan. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

President Biden is tapping a U.S. prosecutor to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on an acting basis while the president’s nominee awaits a confirmation hearing, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed reports that Biden will name Gary Restaino, who has been serving since November as United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, to lead the ATF as its acting director.

Psaki said Biden was putting Restaino in place as acting director using his power under the Federal Vacancies Act. Restaino will replace Marvin Richardson, who was named deputy director last June.

Biden last week announced plans to nominate Steve Dettelbach, former federal attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, to lead the agency permanently.

“We of course are strongly advocating for and pushing for his eminently qualified nominee to be confirmed and have an ATF confirmed director for the first time in many years, which is something we would be eager to see happen,” Psaki said.

Dettelbach served as U.S. attorney for seven years after being nominated in 2009 by former President Obama, who was his classmate at Harvard Law School. He currently is co-leader of white collar investigations at national law firm BakerHostetler.

ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for years, and confirming a director atop the agency has been a key selling point for Biden’s agenda in curbing gun violence.

His first nominee, David Chipman, was withdrawn after Republicans and some Democrats expressed reservations about his advocacy for tougher gun laws.

Tags ATF ATF Barack Obama Biden Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Gary Restaino Jen Psaki Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Biden Obama Steve Dettelback
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