President Obama to Nominate New York Federal Prosecutor Loretta Lynch as Attorney General

Loretta Lynch is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. (Photo: Andrew Burton, Getty Images)
Loretta Lynch is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
(Photo: Andrew Burton, Getty Images)

President Obama will nominate veteran New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to succeed outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

Lynch, 55, who has served two stints as the top federal prosecutor overseeing criminal and civil matters in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, would become the first African-American woman to hold the post if confirmed by the Senate.

“Ms. Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country. She will succeed Eric Holder, whose tenure has been marked by historic gains in the areas of criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement,” the White House statement said.

A formal announcement is planned Saturday at the White House. Officials had considered waiting until after Obama’s foreign trip next week to make the announcement. But, after a meeting late Friday, officials said Obama decided to go ahead and make the announcement Saturday because of the fact that Lynch’s name had leaked out.

Officials said Obama would like to have Lynch confirmed as soon as possible, but they acknowledged that a final vote might not happen until the new Republican-run Senate takes office early next year.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who in the new Senate is set to take over as chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, promised a “very fair, but thorough, vetting” by his panel.

“U.S. Attorneys are rarely elevated directly to this position, so I look forward to learning more about her, how she will interact with Congress, and how she proposes to lead the department,” Grassley said late Friday. “I’m hopeful that her tenure, if confirmed, will restore confidence in the attorney general as a politically independent voice for the American people.”

Grassley had frequently clashed with Holder.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a major backer of Lynch’s, called her “a consummate professional” who is “committed in her bones to the equal application of justice for all people.” Schumer said he would “champion what must be her swift confirmation in the Senate.”

Described by colleagues as a straight-talking, formidable trial lawyer, Lynch has presided over one of the busiest U.S. attorney’s offices in the nation whose caseload represents federal law enforcement’s top priorities, from international terrorism, cybersecurity and high-stakes financial fraud to political corruption and organized crime.

Lynch served as chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a key adviser on Justice Department policy and practice.

“She goes about her business quietly but efficiently; she just gets results,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, a former federal prosecutor who worked closely with Lynch in the high-profile prosecution of a former New York City police officer who brutalized Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Kevin Johnson and David Jackson

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