Lynch now first black woman to be­come US at­tor­ney gen­eral


The U.S. Se­nate con­firmed Loretta Lynch as the na­tion's first black fe­male at­tor­ney gen­eral Thurs­day, in­stalling an ag­gres­sive counter-ter­ror­ism pros­e­cu­tor as the top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's fi­nal 21 months in of­fice.

Lynch was con­firmed in a 56-43 vote — with 10 Repub­li­cans cross­ing the po­lit­i­cal aisle to lend their sup­port — fol­low­ing weeks of grid­lock af­ter her con­fir­ma­tion process was dragged into a bit­ter par­ti­san battle over abor­tion.

She takes over from out­go­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder, whom Repub­li­cans had crit­i­cized as be­ing a rub­ber stamp for Obama's poli­cies.

Lynch's con­fir­ma­tion brought to an end a months-long process that Democrats noted took longer than the con­fir­ma­tion of the seven pre­vi­ous at­tor­neys gen­eral com­bined.

"To­day, the Se­nate fi­nally con­firmed Loretta Lynch to be Amer­ica's next at­tor­ney gen­eral — and Amer­ica will be bet­ter off for it," Obama said in a state­ment.

"Loretta has spent her life fight­ing for the fair and equal jus­tice that is the foun­da­tion of our democ­racy."

Lynch, 55, has served twice as U.S. At­tor­ney for the Eastern Dis­trict of New York, where she thrived as a re­lent­less fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor putting mob­sters and ter­ror sus­pects be­hind bars.

Her of­fice has pros­e­cuted more ter­ror­ism cases since the 9/11 at­tacks of 2001 than any other of­fice, noted Demo­cratic Se­na­tor Amy Klobuchar, who de­scribed Lynch as "ex­actly the type of tough and tested leader" Amer­i­cans need in the job.

With her con­fir­ma­tion drag­ging on, Lynch dived into her work as U.S. at­tor­ney. Just this Mon­day, she an­nounced a 25-year pri­son sen­tence for an Amer­i­can from New York who ad­mit­ted he tried to join an al-Qaida group.

In pre­vi­ous years, she suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted the ter­ror­ists who plot­ted to bomb the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank and the New York sub­way.

She also went af­ter cor­rupt public ser­vants and politi­cians in both par­ties, and won bil­lions of dol­lars in set­tle­ments in fraud cases in­volv­ing ma­jor banks.

And she over­saw the civil rights pros­e­cu­tion of sev­eral New York Po­lice Depart­ment of­fi­cers in­volved in the bru­tal 1997 as­sault of Haitian im­mi­grant Ab­ner Louima, which could pro­vide key per­spec­tive as she in­ves­ti­gates a se­ries of re­cent cases in­volv­ing the use of deadly po­lice force against Amer­i­cans.

With Repub­li­cans seething over what they ar­gue is White House over­reach, many ex­pressed hope that Lynch, who would be only the sec­ond woman to hold the post af­ter Janet Reno (1993-2001), would strike a less overtly po­lit­i­cal and com­bat­ive tone than Holder.

'Em­bod­i­ment of Amer­i­can


At her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing in Jan­uary, Lynch said she would act in­de­pen­dently and aimed to build a "new and im­proved re­la­tion­ship" with Congress, where Repub­li­cans who con­trol both cham­bers are in­censed with Obama's uni­lat­eral ac­tions last year on im­mi­gra­tion.

Hours be­fore the vote, Se­na­tor Ted Cruz at­tacked Lynch as un­fit for the po­si­tion and "un­will­ing to im­pose any lim­its what­so­ever on the author­ity of the pres­i­dent of the United States."

De­spite urg­ing col­leagues to stop Lynch, Cruz, a can­di­date for pres­i­dent in 2016, was the lone se­na­tor not to vote on Lynch's con­fir­ma­tion.

Lynch is the daugh­ter of a North Carolina Bap­tist min­is­ter fa­ther and a li­brar­ian mother. Fas­ci­nated with the legal sys­tem since she was a child, Lynch at­tended Har­vard Col­lege and then Har­vard Law School.

"This woman is the em­bod­i­ment of the Amer­i­can Dream in ac­tion," Se­na­tor Claire McCaskill said.

Lynch's fa­ther was seen in the Se­nate gallery and sev­eral House mem­bers in the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus were in­vited to the Se­nate floor for the his­toric vote.


In this Jan. 28 file photo, At­tor­ney Gen­eral-nom­i­nee Loretta Lynch tes­ti­fies on Capitol Hill in Wash­ing­ton.

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