WASHINGTON — As the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled David Chipman, Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), social media claims started to spread about Chipman's possible involvement with the Waco Siege of 1993.
A photo started to circulate, showing an armed man posing in front of the aftermath of the horrific siege that left dozens of people dead. The Verify Team looked into Chipman's role in the Waco investigation, and whether he was in the photo as claimed online.
Does photo circulating online show Biden's nominee for ATF Director, David Chipman? What was Chipman's role in the Waco Siege of 1993?
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Statement
- David Chipman, Senate Judiciary Committee testimony from May 26, 2021
Chipman is not in the photo, according to both the ATF and the nominee himself. Chipman did respond to Waco, but he arrived weeks after the deadly fires broke out, and was tasked with an investigative role.
WHAT WE KNOW
With politics, social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation. The Verify Team looked into recent posts, centered on Biden's nominee for the ATF Director, David Chipman.
Posts like this claim that Chipman was pictured in a photo in front of the Waco Siege of 1993, which left dozens dead.
The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993 when ATF agents raided a compound near Waco, Texas of a religious group called the Branch Davidians. During the raid, there was a shoot-out that left four ATF agents and six Davidians dead.
A 51 day siege then began, which attracted national attention. On April 19th, it came to a deadly end, when a series of fires broke out in the compound, killing 76 people, including 25 children.
The Verify Team reached out to the ATF for context on Chipman's involvement in the Waco Siege. The bureau told us that Chipman did not arrive in Waco until weeks after the deadly siege ended.
"Mr. Chipman arrived in Waco, Texas, on May 2, 1993," a spokesperson said in a statement. "His role in the Waco event was solely in a post-incident investigative review capacity."
This timeline was confirmed by Chipman himself, during his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on May 26, 2021.
“I was directed to report to Waco in May of 1993," he said. "That was in the month after the events at Waco had concluded. My role was to be assigned to a group of DOJ [Department of Justice] employees who were investigating the events there, and one of the reasons I was selected is because I had no involvement in the actual case that was being examined."
As for the photo, Chipman said that he is not pictured in it. The claims spreading online are false.
“This is not me," he said. "It is in fact a real photo that comes from the time of Waco, it has a stamp on it that showed that it was evidence. But during the course of the investigation I interviewed all of the ATF agents at Waco, and that is not an ATF agent."
The Verify Team also reached out to ATF for comment on the photo.
"The photograph you referenced is not Mr. Chipman," the emailed statement read.
The spokesperson also said that they do not believe the person pictured was an ATF agent, although they do not know who the individual is.
With all this information, the Verify Team can confirm that these posts are false. Biden's nominee is not pictured in this viral photo, and while he was in Waco, it was weeks after the deadly siege ended.