Failed ATF nominee says he spoke to no one at White House after nomination

David Chipman, who was once President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), says that following his ultimately failed nomination to the post, he spoke with no one at the White House.

In an interview with The New York Times, Chipman said he thought it was “unusual” that he spoke to no one from the administration from the moment he was first nominated.

“In the back of my mind, I always thought that there would be a Plan B, but so far there hasn’t been,” Chipman said.

Chipman was nominated in April as Biden was facing pressure to take action on gun control amid multiple mass shootings that had occurred over the span of a month.

But the president pulled the nomination earlier this month amid Republican opposition to Chipman over his work with the gun control advocacy group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.). Chipman also faced opposition from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

Speaking to the Times, Chipman said that having no other contact with the White House made him feel on “an island” when he faced scrutiny from pro-guns groups. He dubbed the entire situation a “failure.”

“Either this was impossible to win, or the strategy failed,” Chipman said. “This was a failure.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment. 

Chipman also detailed to the Times a meeting with King in July, during which the senator apparently told him “my friends who are gun dealers in Maine” objected to Chipman.

“I left his office thinking, ‘Does he really believe that people who regulate industries can only get those jobs if they’re friends with the industry?’” Chipman told the Times. “He just said the quiet part out loud.”

Asked about the meeting, a spokesperson for King’s office shared a letter the senator wrote to his constituents regarding Chipman’s nomination.

In the letter, King said that while his views on most policy issues on gun violence are “consistent” with Chipman’s, there were concerns about whether he could be a “fair and objective regulator.”

“It is likely that no Director of the ATF will ever fully see eye-to-eye on all issues with the regulated community,” King wrote. ” However, Mr. Chipman’s prior advocacy and close identification with several highly active gun-control organizations has given many legitimate concern about how he would approach some of the core functions of this position and if he could be a fair and objective regulator.”

Updated at 10:05 a.m.

Tags Angus King ATF biden administration Biden nominee Gun control Joe Biden
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