Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, is expected to be President Barack Obama’s pick for attorney general, U.S. officials briefed on the matter said. If confirmed, Lynch would be the first African-American woman Attorney General.
An announcement is expected in the coming days, though the timing is complicated by the president’s plans to travel to Asia this weekend. Lynch is a popular prosecutor who is in her second stint as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, appointed by President Obama in 2010 and also serving in the same post from 1999 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton.
Lynch served on the trial team that prosecuted and won convictions in 1999 against New York City police officers for violating the civil rights of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant whom police officers beat and sodomized while he was in their custody.
That experience could help at the helm at the Justice Department, which is overseeing high-profile civil rights investigations, including one into the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting of Michael Brown.
Lynch has quietly built a solid reputation in New York, where Preet Bharara, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, garners magazine covers and regular media attention for Wall Street prosecutions.
Her 2010 nomination won Senate approval on a voice vote, meaning Republicans didn’t view her as controversial.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a member of the Judiciary Committee immediately Tweeted that a vote on Lynch shouldn’t take place during the lame duck session and should be put off until the new Congress convenes in January. “Democratic senators who just lost their seats shouldn’t confirm new Attorney General. Should be vetted by new Congress,” he wrote.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who also is on the committee, told CNN’s Dana Bash that “she seems to be a solid choice” and is “qualified.” Graham also said he doesn’t have any problems with her being confirmed in the lame duck session noting that other cabinet picks have been approved during such periods.