Lynch To Succeed Holder In D.C.
Elected officials across New York City and State applauded the nomination of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch as the nation’s next attorney general.
During a White House press conference last Saturday, Nov. 8, President Barack Obama officially announced Lynch as his choice to succeed another New Yorker, Eric Holder, as the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the country.
Lynch is currently in her second stint leading the Justice Department’s Eastern District of New York, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Nassau and Suffolk counties. She previously served in the same post under President Bill Clinton between 1999 and 2001 and returned to the job in May 2010 after being re-nominated by Obama.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Lynch would become the first black female to serve as attorney general in American history.
“It’s pretty hard to be more qualified for this job than Loretta,” the president said last Saturday. “Throughout her 30- year career, she has distinguished herself as tough, as fair, as an independent lawyer who has twice headed one of the most prominent U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country. She has spent her years in the trenches as a prosecutor, aggressively fighting terrorism, financial fraud, cybercrime, all while vigorously defending civil rights.”
“The Department of Justice is the only Cabinet department named for an ideal. And this is actually appropriate, because our work is both aspirational and grounded in gritty reality,” Lynch added. “It’s both ennobling and its both profoundly challenging. Today, I stand before you so thrilled, and frankly so humbled, to have the opportunity to lead this group of wonderful people who work all day and well into the night to make that ideal a manifest reality, all as part of their steadfast protection of the citizens of this country.”
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Lynch joined the Eastern District of New York in 1990 after spending nine years in the private sector. She rose through the ranks in the office and prosecuted a number of highprofile cases, including the 1997 civil rights trial of New York City police officers accused of sexually assaulting Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant in their custody.
Following her first term as the office’s leader, Lynch rejoined the private sector, becoming a partner at Hogan and Hartson LLP in Manhattan, focusing on commercial litigation, financial crimes and corporate compliance.
News about Lynch’s nomination to attorney general broke hours before the president made his official announcement, prompting early statements of support from, among others, Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“The nation is about to meet Loretta Lynch for the first time- but in the five boroughs, she is already known for her character, toughness and uncompromising sense of justice,” de Blasio stated last Friday, Nov. 7. “She has never been afraid to hold those in power accountable under the law, or to fight for those facing inequity.”
“[Lynch] has earned a welldeserved reputation as an aggressive but fair prosecutor who has used her office to seek justice through both criminal and civil proceedings,” added Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “I am confident that U.S. Attorney Lynch will bring those same qualities to her new position as our country’s top law enforcement official.”
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman credited Lynch for working with his office to recover “millions of Medicaid dollars from unscrupulous actors,” adding that “time and time again, [she] demonstrated her commitment to ensuring there is one set of rules for everyone and to defending the principle of equal justice for all.”
Others offering statements of support were City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said Lynch proved herself “to be a fighter for justice, unafraid to tackle corruption or crack down on cybercrime”; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who called her “an exceptionally wellqualified candidate for the job” and said she was “pleased to see such a highly qualified woman make history as the nation’s top law enforcement official”; and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who praised Lynch as “a superb lawyer with wide-ranging experience at the highest echelons of the legal profession.”
Holder, who has served as attorney general since the Obama administration began in 2009, announced in September he would step down from the post once his successor is confirmed.
The Senate will likely convene confirmation hearings for Lynch in January, when control of the legislative body shifts from Democratic to Republican control as a result of last Tuesday’s midterm elections.
A majority floor vote is required to approve the nomination.