Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney in NY, was not a household name before President Obama announced her as his nominee for a new role as U.S. Attorney General. That is not to say she is not involved with law enforcement. Lynch acts as an advisor in a chaired position on current Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s Justice Department review commission, and she graduated from Harvard Law just seven years before Obama attended. However, at a time when President Obama’s every action is heavily scrutinized, Lynch does not appear to have close ties to the White House. For many Republicans newly appointed to Congress, her relative anonymity and distance from the President make her a palatable candidate for the soon-to-be vacant position. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) have promised she will receive a “fair consideration” that will hopefully “restore confidence in the attorney general..for the American people.”
Lynch demonstrated her competence as an attorney when she helped seal the convictions of two police officers in a high-profile case in which Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was the victim of police brutality at the hands of the NYPD. Additionally, she has tried and convicted several public officials for banking fraud and accepting bribes. She has also tried and convicted drug dealers, mob bosses, and terrorists. Her team even helped lead an investigation into Citigroup which resulted in a $7 billion settlement for illegal mortgage securities sales. Despite having a highly successful track record, Lynch remains out of the limelight, uninvolved with politics, and not swayed by partisanship. President Obama spoke highly of Lynch as his nominee and her adept skill set for the new role, saying, “she doesn’t look to make headlines, she looks to make a difference.”
Wanting to keep a low profile, Lynch vows to wake up each morning with “the protection of the American people” as her first thought. She said her commitment will be to “safeguard our citizens, our liberties, our rights.” President Obama referred to her as “apolitical” citing the fact that she has brought charges against individuals without regard for which party they belong. She has also already won unanimous Senate confirmation during her first two stints as U.S. attorney in New York. She was confirmed to her first position under President Clinton from 1999-2001.
While President Obama pressed the Senate for the new attorney general’s confirmation as soon as possible, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has other bills he’d like to bring for a vote before this year’s session of Congress ends. It is quite possible Obama’s nomination for the attorney general role will not be confirmed until early next year, when the new session of Congress is convened. Already, some Republicans, Ted Cruz (TX), Orrin G. Hatch (UT), and Robert W. Goodlatte (VA), have expressed their intention to tie Lynch’s confirmation to other issues they have, specifically with the President’s use of executive orders.
Despite the threat of continued Republican obstruction, President Obama is confident Lynch’s past achievements will outweigh any partisan schemes. Tony West, former associate attorney general, complimented her as an “excellent choice–smart, talented…experienced.” West said on Friday that the President would be “hard-pressed to come up with anyone better qualified or more prepared.” Lynch has the backing of many Democrats and progressive groups, such as the Alliance for Justice who voiced confidence in her ability to “build on Holder’s strong legacy of standing up for civil rights and ensuring equal justice.” If nominated, Lynch will be the first African-American woman to hold her new role as attorney general.
By Didi Anofienem