Loretta Lynch was introduced to Americans just over a week ago as President Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, a woman the president said “battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists and still has the reputation for being a charming people person.”
On Tuesday night in New York, she was described a different way: as a little sister.
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The occasion for Lynch’s first public appearance since her nomination was an award ceremony held by the Brennan Center for Justice. Lynch introduced her former boss, current New York City corporation counsel and former U.S. attorney Zachary Carter, whom she praised as a man who “a man who steps out on faith and principle to further the cause of justice.”
Carter was more voluble. Calling Lynch “my dear friend, my comrade in arms, and the next attorney general of the United States,” Carter said, “Her commitment to justice, her devotion to colleagues, her respect for adversaries, and her determination to never forget where she came from, distinguished her … and made her a worthy successor of the United States attorney general, who shares those same attributes.”
He added, “I could not be more proud of Loretta if she were my little sister, which I think of her as being.”
“I also am in awe of a president who could so casually name two African-American attorneys generals of the United States in a row,” Carter said in reference to Lynch and the man she’d potentially succeed, Eric Holder. “I’ll be happy when that is just called normal.”
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Lynch declined to speak with the press. She faces a tough confirmation process, not because of her own credentials but because the new Republican-controlled Congress is likely to use her as a bargaining chip or a cudgel against the president.
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday that he would not push to have Lynch confirmed in the lame-duck session. “My personal feeling is that the White House has, through intermediaries with me, have said don’t be pushing that, we can do it after the first of the year,” Reid said, according to Roll Call.
Republican Senators have said they plan to raise the issue of executive power during Lynch’s confirmation hearings, particularly in light of the president’s anticipated executive order on immigration.
“The nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee said in a joint statement. “Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the president’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic member of the Judiciary committee, told Politico, “She should have no difficulty whatsoever on the merits. There is not a scintilla of factual basis to challenge her.”