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NY Prosecutor Emerges as Top Contender for Attorney General

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Image: FILE: Obama Expected To Pick Loretta Lynch For Attorney General NY Congressman Michael Grimm Indicted On Federal Fraud Charges
FILE - NOVEMBER 7: According to reports, Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York, is expected to be President Barack Obama's pick for US attorney general. NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, speaks at a press conference to announce a 20-count indictment against U.S. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY, 11th District) on April 28, 2014 in New York City. Grimm's indictments include wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiring to defraud the United States, impeding the Internal Revenue Service, hiring and employing unauthorized aliens, and health care fraud. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)Andrew Burton / Getty Images

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Loretta Lynch, the head federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, has emerged as a top contender to replace Eric Holder as the next attorney general, but White House officials insist a final decision has not yet been made.

Several government officials have told NBC News that the White House has all but concluded she's the one. However, President Barack Obama is still giving the decision some thought and may not announce his choice until he returns from his Asia trip later this month.

If approved by the Senate, Lynch will become the first African-American woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement position.

Though she has a high-profile position as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch has generally steered away from the spotlight. She was not initially thought to be a top contender for the post.

Lynch was first appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District by President Bill Clinton in 1999. She left in 2001 to join a private law firm and then became a boardmember at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Obama nominated her to return to her old job in 2010.

Lynch’s potential nomination pleases some liberal groups. Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice said in a press release: "In addition to handling major cases involving everything from police brutality to cybercrime, Lynch is a key policy advisor to Eric Holder. We are confident that Lynch will build on Holder's strong legacy of standing up for civil rights and ensuring equal justice for all Americans. We call on Ms. Lynch to take a leading role in addressing the Supreme Court's repeated efforts to deny access to the courts and the ballot box."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest cautioned reporters Friday that the president has not made a final decision and would not give an indication of when a decision would be made.

IN-DEPTH

-- Pete Williams, Kelly O'Donnell and Andrew Rafferty

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