Obama Nominates Loretta Lynch as New Attorney General
President Barack Obama on Saturday confirmed his nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the next US attorney general, succeeding Eric Holder.
The White House had signalled the nomination of the US attorney for the eastern district of New York – who will, if confirmed, become the first African American woman to hold the post – on Friday night.
“It’s pretty hard to be more qualified for this role than Loretta,” Obama said at a White House press conference, before detailing and praising her achievements.
He added: “I can think of no better public servant to be our attorney general.”
Provoking laughter, Obama said: “Loretta might be the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists and still has the reputation for being a people person.”
He added: “That’s probably because Loretta doesn’t look to make headlines, she looks to make a difference.”
Away from the US, the 55-year-old Harvard-educated attorney from Greensboro, North Carolina recently spent time as special counsel to the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
In answer to the president, Lynch thanked Obama and Holder, her colleagues in the Department of Justice and the eastern district of New York, “my professional home”.
She said: “The Department of Justice is the only department named for an ideal, and this is appropriate because our work … is both ennobling and profoundly challenging.”
On Saturday, colleagues and peers of Lynch told the Guardian of her “low-key, very measured” approach and said she was “very smart, she knows how to surround herself with smart people”.
Lynch is not seen to be close to the president, and is thus expected to be confirmed in the role by the Senate, despite the Republicans having taken control in this week’s midterm elections.
“She is a well qualified, noncontroversial nominee,” said Carl Tobias, professor of Williams Professor of law at the University of Richmond. “There may be some delay, as it will take time to evaluate her, but little prospect of rejection.
“The Democrats may even be able to push her through in the lame duck session, although the GOP is urging that the Senate wait until 2015.”
Holder, who announced his retirement in September, was the first African American to hold the post.
Of Holder, Obama said: “I am immensely grateful to Eric, one of the most long-serving attorney generals in American history and one of our finest … thanks to him our nation is safer and freer.”