Some House Republicans are pushing a resolution to impeach David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) – even before he’s been confirmed by the Senate.
The effort, which is more political messaging than anything, is led by Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont. It comes as at least five moderate Democrats remain undecided on the controversial nominee with a history of working for major gun control groups, and as the timing for Chipman’s final confirmation remains unclear.
The White House and a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday about when the Chipman nomination could be brought up for a vote. This is despite the fact that Chipman advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote nearly a month ago.
“The confirmation of David Chipman to the ATF would be a direct threat to the second amendment rights of Americans and the rule of law,” Rosendale said in a statement about his impeachment resolution. “Not only has Chipman previously given false testimony to Congress, but his statements on gun-control are evidence that his confirmation would be a failure to support and defend our constitutional rights. If appointed, both are impeachable offenses and worthy of Congress to consider his removal.”
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The impeachment resolution includes two articles, one alleging that Chipman has failed to “support and defend” the Second Amendment and thus the Constitution, and a second alleging that he lied to Congress when he denied allegations that he lost his service weapon as an ATF agent.
Senators have inquired whether Chipman ever lost his service weapon, and at least one staffer has said that their office has received information contradicting Chipman’s denials. But the claims that Chipman lost his service weapon are still unverified, and the ATF told Fox News previously that there is no record of Chipman ever losing track of his gun.
The impeachment resolution has 11 Republican co-sponsors in addition to Rosendale: Reps. Bob Good, R-Va.; Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.; Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; Ralph Norman, R-S.C.; Jody Hice, R-Ga.; Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn.; Scott Perry, R-Pa.; Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.; Andy Harris, R-Md.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; and Andrew Clyde, R-Ga.
The resolution almost certainly will never be seriously considered by the Democrat-controlled House, and is unlikely to gain traction with even a large portion of the Republican conference. But it underscores the staunch GOP opposition to Chipman from Republicans – a sentiment that is not just limited to firebrand conservatives.
Moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, came out against Chipman’s confirmation weeks ago, calling him “unusually divisive” and saying he’s “made statements that demean law-abiding gun owners.”
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Collins was likely referring to a comment Chipman made on Cheddar News last year about a spike in gun purchases.
“They might think that they’re die-hard ready to go,” Chipman said of first-time gun owners. “But unfortunately they’re more like Tiger King and they’re putting themselves and their families in danger.”
Chipman has also been under fire over comments he made in a 2019 Reddit “Ask Me Anything.” He claimed that people who failed background checks to buy a gun often later committed crimes and said, “This is a perfect opportunity to arrest people before committing crimes.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, called Chipman’s remarks “the sort of thing that’s reserved for bad post-apocalyptic dystopian novels and movies.”
It’s against that backdrop that at least five Democratic senators are yet to publicly commit to supporting Chipman’s nomination, and the White House and Schumer are mum about when the nominee could potentially come to the floor.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is still undecided on Chipman’s nomination, according to his spokesperson Andy Bixler.
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“As a proud gun owner, Senator Tester believes ATF needs a strong leader to support the agency’s law enforcement mission,” Bixler told Fox News Wednesday. “Senator Tester will continue to review David Chipman’s record and testimony to ensure he would support our brave law enforcement officers and respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights.”
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “continues to review his nomination,” spokesperson Matthew Felling told Fox News.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., is also undecided, and his office did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Wednesday.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., also haven’t taken a public stance on Chipman, and their offices did not respond to requests for comment. Manchin in June acknowledged that “there’s a lot of controversy” around Chipman, according to Politico. “I really am undecided,” he said.
One moderate Democrat at least has moved into Chipman’s column – the office of Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., told Fox News she does support Chipman.
The White House has defended Chipman. Spokesperson Michael Gwin previously told Fox News that Chipman “served honorably in law enforcement for 25 years – promoted into positions of trust and management at the ATF, participating in complex investigations, and putting himself in harm’s way as a member of the Bureau’s SWAT team.”
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Gwin also recently told the Wall Street Journal that the president “looks forward to the Senate quickly voting on Chipman’s nomination as ATF Director.”
Some Republicans, meanwhile, are lambasting Democrats over the fact they won’t reject Chipman, who is supported by the powerful gun control groups Brady and Giffords.
“Senator Schumer has ceded all control to the anti-gun groups, and he won’t stand up to them, even when it hurts vulnerable Democrats like Maggie Hassan,” a Republican aide told Fox News.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.