Biden ordered ATF top officials to get his ghost guns, per FOIA documents (EXCLUSIVE)
Part 5 of the investigation into how the White House used taxpayer resources for a publicity stunt to promote gun control
Pres. Joe Biden waved a ghost gun at a White House press conference in April that was ordered to be delivered to him by top officials at the Justice Department and ATF, according to documents obtained by my FOIA request.
The decision and process of getting guns four days before the April 11 Rose Garden event were closely held by the administration. A top ATF official commanded that information on the operation was “not for further dissemination.”
Watch the video version of this 5th part of my investigation on my YouTube channel below:
Paid subscribers can read the 16-page FOIA response from ATF in the sources at the bottom.
Biden issued an executive order rule the same day of the media event to regulate privately made firearms (PMF), which are referred to as ghost guns because they don’t have serial numbers. It went into effect on Aug. 24 and is being challenged in courts around the country.
Biden’s ghost gun investigation
Part one was about the role of the Secret Service, D.C. police and ATF in the transfer through D.C., which is illegal for regular people.
Part two was about the ATF declaring that the agents who took the guns to the White House were on official duty so didn’t have to obey D.C. gun laws. The agency also refused to give the manufacturer or source of the gun parts. I then filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the Secret Service and ATF.
Part three had photos of a cache of illegal ghost guns, AR rifle parts and 3D-printed guns for Biden’s event from my FOIA to the Secret Service.
Part four was about the ATF spokesman admitting that the agency “occasionally” buys guns for “its mission”— in reference to Biden’s media event.
The trail to get Biden his guns started with a heavily redacted email on April 7 with the subject line “PMF Display for Rose Garden.”
Anne Gannon, who is the Justice Department’s senior counsel to the deputy attorney general, emailed Joseph Allen, who was chief of staff to the ATF director at the time and Daniel Board, who was head of ATF’s public affairs at the time. Board is now chief of staff for ATF Director Steven Dettelbach.
As you can see, the only part of Ganon’s email left uncovered by censors is:
The Department has been asked if a display of PMFs is possible for Monday’s Rose Garden event. PMFs set up on a table seem to be the ask.
“PMFs set up on a table seem to be the ask.”
It seems Gannon was responding to a call or email from the White House. In my previous story, an ATF spokesman said that “occasionally ATF will purchase items necessary for its mission that it does not have in the collection.” If that happened, there were only a few days to buy the gun kits and get them to Washington.
Board then forwards the email “for your consideration” to Alphonso Hughes, ATF’s assistant director of the Office of Enforcement Programs and Services.
Allen emails to Hughes: “Phonz, Let’s discuss. Have some additional information.”
Hughes forwards the email to someone whose name is redacted. It says, “I will loop you into the conversation when I get a slot with Joe Allen. See trail. Not for further dissemination.”
The mystery official responds by adding an ATF lawyer to the email, Ryan Williams, and writing “10-4.”
“Not for further dissemination.”
FOIA and secrecy at ATF
I filed the FOIA request with ATF on May 19, and have been going back and forth since then to get more public information.
On Aug. 11, I pointed out that their system has said that it is still "searching for records" after 73 days. A spokeswoman from the department that handles FOIA responded:
We are experiencing a massive backlog along with a staffing shortage and have received over 1200 requests this year. My supervisor is aware of your request, and we are working on it.
I asked again a month later and another spokeswoman in that department emailed me:
We located records responsive to your request and processed them, but they require consultation with another part of the Department. As soon as we get a response to our consultation request, we will send you the documents.
I replied that they didn’t include even the emails between me and the public affairs media spokespeople the previous spring. On Sep 26, I got this email:
I already sent a revised search to our tech folks who run the searches. We missed the email string you have because I didn’t include Public Affairs in the list of targeted custodians.
It is possible the decision making and activity were handled in person or via telephone, but if there is something else in writing we’ll track it down.
The more information we have, the better our searches are but it’s an art, not a science. I’m happy to keep working with you to be sure we find all responsive records.
It’s possible that the ATF top officials talked by phone to authorize the operation but seems highly unlikely that there is no….
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