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Ex-Federal Prosecutor Dettelbach Eyed As Possible ATF Chief

President Biden is expected to announce a new nominee to lead the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after withdrawing his first pick amid Republican opposition and tepid support from Democrats, the Wall Street Journal reports. The White House is considering Steven Dettelbach, who served as the U.S. Attorney in Cleveland during the Obama administration, as the Biden administration faces pressure to drive down rising gun violence in major cities. Biden dropped the nomination of David Chipman, a former ATF agent turned gun-control activist, when he lacked the support of Republicans and centrist Democrats. Opponents cited Chipman's advocacy for a ban on assault-style rifles and expanded background checks.


The ATF, led by Acting Director Marvin Richardson, hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2015. Rising violence has become a potential flashpoint ahead of the midterm elections, with Republicans accusing Democrats, who lead most major U.S. cities, of being soft on crime. Democrats fault Republicans for opposing gun control. It isn’t clear whether Dettelbach would have a smoother path to Senate confirmation. As a candidate for Ohio’s attorney general in 2018, he supported a ban on assault-style weapons and universal background checks, among other policies.

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