Loretta Lynch, Federal Prosecutor, Is Called a Leading Candidate for Attorney General

Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Apuzzonov, New York Times, November 7, 2014

Loretta E. Lynch, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, has emerged as the leading contender to be the next attorney general, officials close to the process said, as President Obama looks outside his inner circle to fill a crucial post.

The White House declined to comment on whether Mr. Obama would tap Ms. Lynch, who if chosen and confirmed would be the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official. She would replace Eric H. Holder Jr., who is stepping down.

Ms. Lynch, a low-profile prosecutor, has risen to the top of the president’s short list in recent days, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the nomination publicly. Officials said that a formal White House announcement is not expected to come before Mr. Obama returns to Washington on Nov. 16 after a trip to Asia.

Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch

A Lynch nomination might carry substantial political benefits for a White House recalibrating its strategy after Republicans took over the Senate. Indeed, Ms. Lynch is a two-time United States attorney who has twice been confirmed by the Senate by acclamation–in 2000 and again in 2010. {snip}

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Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, another contender for the post, is known to be close with Mr. Obama and faced virulent Republican opposition to his confirmation last year. {snip}

Similarly, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the solicitor general, has ties to Mr. Obama and his administration that could prove problematic during a confirmation process, including his role in defending the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court.

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Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who twice recommended Ms. Lynch to the White House as United States attorney, said she would make “an outstanding attorney general.”

She supervised the successful prosecution of a white New York police officer who sodomized a Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima, with a broken broomstick in 1997. The case became a national symbol of police brutality.

As United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Lynch oversaw all federal prosecutions in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. The office’s many terrorism cases have given it a reputation as a hub of expertise on national security matters. She also leads the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a panel of United States attorneys who advise the attorney general on policy and operational issues.

If Ms. Lynch is nominated and confirmed, it would be the first time in nearly two centuries that a president had elevated a United States attorney directly to the position of attorney general. The last time was in 1817, when President James Monroe chose William Wirt, the top prosecutor in eastern Virginia, for the job.

Ms. Lynch, who was born in Greensboro, N.C., has undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard.

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