Tag: U.S. Attorney

Loretta Lynch Wins Senate Panel Approval to be Attorney General

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the 83rd U.S. attorney general and the first African American woman to hold the post.

The vote was 12 to 8, with 3 Republicans voting in favor of Lynch, who is the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

Lynch’s nomination now goes to the Senate floor, where she seems assured of eventual approval. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far been noncommittal about when he will schedule the vote. Democrats have complained that Lynch’s nomination has been pending for more than three months.

Republican opponents of Lynch have mostly not criticized her, but have used the nomination as a proxy for their opposition to President Obama’s executive action that would shield from deportation several million immigrants in the country illegally.

Lynch has testified that the legal underpinning for that directive was “reasonable.”

The committee debate also featured a spirited disagreement about the constitutional role of senators in confirming nominees, one that did not stricly follow party lines.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee chair and a Lynch supporter, excoriated fellow Republicans in the House who said in a letter that voting for Lynch was a vote in favor of “lawlessness” on the part of President Obama.

“That is ridiculous on its face,” Hatch said angrily.

“The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee on Jan. 28,” Hatch said.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) joined Hatch in siding with all nine Democrats on the committee.

“To those who really believe this is a constitutional overreach of historic proportions, you have impeachment available to you,” Graham said, referring to the immigration controversy.

Noting the near-constant complaints among Republicans on the committee about the current attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., Graham said wryly that “Eric Holder’s ready to go, and I wish him well. He’s about to make a lot of money. Republicans are into that.”

Conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say Lynch would not be independent of President Obama on immigration and other issues and would not depart from Holder’s policies.

Cruz, a potential candidate for president, said Lynch had refused to answer crucial questions in her confirmation hearing.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has led opposition to Obama’s immigration plans, denounced Lynch.

“The Senate cannot confirm someone to this post who is going to support and advance a scheme that violates our Constitution and eviscerates congressional authority,” Sessions said. “Congress makes the laws, not the president—as every schoolchild knows.”

Lynch has twice been U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, the top federal prosecutor in a district that includes all of Long Island and most of New York City outside of Manhattan and the Bronx.

She has been a federal prosecutor much of her career and earned the endorsement of a number of top law enforcement officials and organizations. She has extensive experience in terrorism and public corruption cases.

Lynch also has international experience, volunteering over several years with the International Criminal Tribune for Rwanda training lawyers and conducting an investigation.

article by Timothy Phelps via latimes.com

Brooklyn Prosecutor Loretta Lynch to be Nominated U.S. Attorney General

President Obama on Saturday will name Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, to replace Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., according to a source familiar with the process. Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.  She would follow Holder, the first African-American attorney general. Holder has said he will stay on until his successor is confirmed.

Lynch, 55, is a longtime federal prosecutor who has the unusual distinction of serving in her current job twice: She was U.S. attorney for two years under President Clinton, and was disappointed that she was not reappointed by President George W. Bush. Obama reappointed her in 2010.

In contrast to other U.S. attorneys in New York, Lynch has shunned the limelight, rarely giving news conferences or interviews.

For that reason she is a relative unknown outside her district. But she came to prominence in New York in the late 1990s as the supervisor of the team that successfully prosecuted two police officers for the sexual assault with a broomstick of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted.

Lynch grew up in Greensboro, N.C., the daughter of a Baptist minister and a school librarian. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.  Lynch has solid liberal credentials, having been associated with the Legal Aid Society in New York and the Brennan Center for Justice, named for former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., a liberal lion.

But she has establishment credentials as well, including serving on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Her low profile should make her potential confirmation easier than for some other candidates for the job, such as Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who drew repeated criticism from Republicans when he ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

article by Timothy M. Phelps and Michael A. Memoli via latimes.com