The PJ Tatler

Obama Picks U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn to Replace Holder

The White House announced this evening that President Obama will formally announce on Saturday his pick to replace Attorney General Eric Holder.

“Tomorrow, the President will announce his intent to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to be the Attorney General of the United States,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “The President will make the announcement in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, and will be joined by Attorney General Holder and Ms. Lynch.”

“Ms. Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country,” Earnest continued. “She will succeed Eric Holder, whose tenure has been marked by historic gains in the areas of criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement.”

Harvard-educated Lynch, 55, began serving as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 2010, confirmed to the post by unanimous consent in the Senate. She previously led the same office from 1999 to 2001. Her jurisdiction is Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.

Between the two periods, she was a partner in the New York office of Hogan & Hartson L.L.P., focusing on “commercial litigation, white collar criminal defense and corporate compliance issues.”

“Ms. Lynch has expanded the office’s leading national security practice into the area of cyber security, and has also made community outreach a priority,” says her Justice Department biography, adding that Holder named her chair of his advisory committee in 2013.

She also sits on the DoJ’s Diversity Council.

In February 2013, Lynch said at a symposium at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City that the controversial “stop-and-frisk” practice of the police was a policy that “can be used and it can be misused.”

“It’s a tool, just like anything else. It depends on who’s using it,” she said. “I think there’s a tendency in law enforcement that when something works, to put all the resources behind it. Sometimes there’s a lot of thought, and sometimes there’s not.”

Lynch also spoke on gun violence, noting that “here in New York the shadow trade of firearms… escalates violence to an alarming degree.”

“Arresting more people or building more jails is not the ultimate solution to crime in our society. If there’s one thing we’ve learned is that there is no one solution,” she told the symposium.

“When I review my office’s gang portfolio, which sadly is as robust as when I was a junior prosecutor, I see a double tragedy. I see these young men, who are predominantly black, I see not only the lives that they take, but the lives of these young men,” she added. “When these young men and increasingly young women are turned out, what have we put in place to support them in their lives?”

In a statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Lynch “a trailblazer who has served the public with distinction in her current role under two presidents.”

“She has earned a well-deserved reputation as an aggressive but fair prosecutor, who has used her office to seek justice through both criminal and civil proceedings,” Cuomo said. “I am confident that U.S. Attorney Lynch will bring those same qualities to her new position as our country’s top law enforcement official.”

One of her most well-known cases was the prosecution of New York police officers for the 1997 sexual assault and torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

Currently Lynch’s office is prosecuting Rep. Michel Grimm (R-N.Y.). This spring, the congressman was slapped with a 20-count indictment charging that he violated various laws while running a health-food restaurant in Manhattan prior to his political career, including hiring illegal immigrants and paying his staff in cash under the table. Grimm pleaded not guilty and vowed to fight the charges, not resign his seat and run for re-election. On Tuesday, he won with 55 percent of the vote.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) predicted to PJM before the election that if Democrats kept the majority in this week’s elections they would try to move as much legislation as possible before the end of the term. The GOP won, and Cornyn’s prediction for that scenario was, “I think trying to jam forward as many nominees as [Harry Reid] could would probably be high on their agenda.”

A pick was expected “shortly after the election,” Holder said at the Washington Ideas Forum at the end of October.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus was lobbying hard for Obama to select Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who led the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department from 2009 to 2013.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who leads the caucus’ Diversity Task Force, said Perez “has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice and civil rights.”

“As a dedicated public servant, he has stood up for working families and advocated for the rights of all Americans – especially the most vulnerable,” Luján said. ”Secretary Perez’s significant record of accomplishment throughout his career and during his time as Assistant Attorney General reflects the values he would bring to the Department of Justice and instills the utmost confidence in his ability to serve as Attorney General.”