Phillip Swarts, Washington Times, January 27, 2015
Republican lawmakers plan to grill U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch on Wednesday on everything from her position on President Obama’s immigration amnesty to how she would pursue the Justice Department’s investigation into the IRS targeting of tea party groups.
Mostly Republican senators want to ask whether she would follow in the footsteps of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has used his perch to push an activist agenda on gun control and voting rights, while defending Mr. Obama’s expansive claims of executive powers to alter Obamacare, launch a war in Libya and grant tentative legal status to illegal immigrants.
Senators are worried that Ms. Lynch, who would become the nation’s first black female attorney general, has too many similarities to Mr. Holder, who has had an adversarial relationship with the legislative branch.
In 2012, Mr. Holder became the first sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress for not providing key information to the House of Representatives during their investigation into the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.
Republican senators are eager to find out whether Ms. Lynch considers Mr. Obama’s executive amnesty, which aims to shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, within the confines of the Constitution.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, will question Ms. Lynch about Operation Streamline, a Justice Department program used to fast-track prosecutions of illegal immigrants that advocates say the federal government has largely let fall by the wayside.
Ms. Lynch, who has no ties to Mr. Obama’s policies, is stepping into the congressional limelight at a time when the Justice Department is beset by criticism from conservatives and liberals alike. Civil rights advocates railed against the Justice Department’s handling of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, while Republicans are annoyed that the department hasn’t initiated an investigation into the IRS targeting of tea party groups.
Ms. Lynch, 55, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of New York, was unanimously approved by a Senate voice vote to her current position. She was appointed to that post by President Clinton in 1999. She left it and returned to private practice before again taking the position when nominated by Mr. Obama.
As the top prosecutor for a district that includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, Ms. Lynch was best known for her prosecution of the four New York police officers charged with violating the civil rights of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was beaten and sodomized while in custody.