Tags: loretta lynch | republicans | attorney | general

Attorney General Nominee Moves Closer to Confirmation

Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 06:31 AM

Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch faces more grilling Thursday as she moves closer to an expected confirmation, following a daylong hearing in which she testified to her independence from President Barack Obama and willingness to work with the Republican-led Congress.

Making her first appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lynch offered support for some controversial Obama administration policies, including the president's unilateral protections for millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

But she also suggested she would provide a fresh departure from Attorney General Eric Holder, who is deeply unpopular among some Republicans and was derided Wednesday by one, Texan John Cornyn, as "openly contemptuous" of congressional oversight.

"If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself. I would be Loretta Lynch," she said, when asked how senators could be assured that she would lead differently.

Facing skeptical but largely cordial Republicans, Lynch mostly handled with aplomb questions on topics including terrorism, drugs and surveillance. Even the occasional confrontational exchange over immigration, an issue some Republican lawmakers seized on as a litmus test, appeared unlikely to derail Lynch's chances of confirmation.

If approved by the committee and confirmed by the full Senate, Lynch — the top federal prosecutor since 2010 for parts of New York City and Long Island — would become the nation's first black female attorney general.

"You've acquitted yourself very well," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., after challenging Lynch on national security.

Other Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and David Vitter of Louisiana, were more openly critical and signaled probable votes against Lynch's nomination.

"There has been nothing I have been able to ask you suggesting any limitation whatsoever on the authority of the president," Cruz said. Lynch disagreed with that characterization, saying the American people, and not the president, would be "my client and my first thought."

Though neither Obama nor Holder was present, their actions were a heavy focus of the hearing.

Republicans criticized Holder as too politically close to Obama, and they repeatedly lambasted the administration's new policy granting work permits and temporary deportation relief to some 4 million people who are in the country illegally. The committee chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa, called the effort "a dangerous abuse of executive authority."

Lynch said she had no involvement in drafting the measures but called them "a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem" of illegal immigration. She said the Homeland Security Department is focusing on removals of "the most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us."

Lynch aligned herself with Holder on certain policy decisions, agreeing with his assertions that interrogation by waterboarding is torture and illegal, that civilian courts are an appropriate venue to prosecute suspected terrorists captured overseas and that the department's limited resources are best reserved for prosecuting violent offenders.

But on other points, she also struck a firmer law-and-order stance.

Lynch, whose office in New York is leading a civil rights investigation into the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island last summer, was also careful to express solidarity with law enforcement at a time when racially charged incidents of police force have stirred community concerns of bias.

Witnesses on Thursday are to include Janice Fedarcyk, the former head of the FBI's New York field office, and David Barlow, a former U.S. Attorney from Utah.

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Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch faces more grilling Thursday as she moves closer to an expected confirmation, following a daylong hearing in which she testified to her independence from President Barack Obama and willingness to work with the Republican-led...
loretta lynch, republicans, attorney, general
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2015-31-29
Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 06:31 AM
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