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President Barack Obama announced Loretta Lynch, a two-time U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, as his pick to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday. If her nomination is approved, Lynch, 55, will become the first African-American woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement job.
Lynch has prosecuted “mobsters and drug lords and terrorists, and still has the reputation for being a charming people person,” Obama said a news conference in the Roosevelt Room in the White House. “It’s pretty hard to be more qualified for this job than Loretta.”
The president said he hoped the Senate would confirm the nomination “without delay.”
Obama said he was confident Lynch, like Holder, would bring to the office a “fierce commitment to equal justice under the law.” Holder, who announced his intention to resign in September, said Lynch has “earned the trust and respect of Justice Department employees at every level, in Washington and throughout the country.”
Lynch praised Holder and thanked him for “leading by example and always, always pushing this department to live up to its name,” adding that “the Department of Justice is the only cabinet department named for an ideal.” She pledged — if she is confirmed — to work with her colleagues “to make that ideal a manifest reality.”
Lynch’s current legal office covers five counties, including Brooklyn and Queens. It handles everything from Mafia busts to cybercrime. The North Carolina native was chief assistant for the district during the high-profile 1997 prosecution of New York City police officers who severely beat and sexually assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. More recently, she supervised a team that indicted Republican Rep. Michael Grimm on fraud, tax evasion and perjury charges.