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GOP Slams Obama for AG Nomination Before Lame-Duck Session

By    |   Saturday, 08 November 2014 07:32 PM

Republicans promised a fair confirmation process for President Barack Obama's choice as attorney general on Saturday, but slammed the White House for nominating Loretta Lynch to the post before the GOP takes full control of Congress in January.

"President Obama’s attorney general nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame-duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters," said Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah.

Both senators are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose ranking Republican member is Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

"I have every confidence that Ms. Lynch will receive a very fair, but thorough, vetting by the Judiciary Committee," Grassley said. "U.S. Attorneys are rarely elevated directly to this position, so I look forward to learning more about her, how she will interact with Congress, and how she proposes to lead the department.

"I’m hopeful that her tenure, if confirmed, will restore confidence in the attorney general as a politically independent voice for the American people," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will replace Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as majority leader when the new Congress convenes in January, also promised that "Ms. Lynch will receive fair consideration by the Senate.

"Her nomination should be considered in the new Congress through regular order," he added.

President Obama nominated Lynch, 55, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, to succeed Eric Holder, who served six tumultuous years in the job.

If confirmed, Lynch would become the first African-American female to serve in the position. Holder, 63, was the first black to head the Justice Department.

"Loretta might be the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists, and still has the reputation for being a charming people person," Obama said in announcing her nomination at the White House.

Lynch, who holds undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University, said she was humbled at the prospect of leading "the only Cabinet department named for an ideal."

"If I have the honor of being confirmed by the Senate, I will wake up every morning with the protection of the American people my first thought," she said. "And I will work every day to safeguard our citizens, our liberties, our rights, and this great nation which has given so much to me and my family."

A native of Greensboro, N.C., Lynch first rose to prominence in 1999 for the successful prosecution of five white New York City police officers who had been accused of assaulting a Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima. He had been beaten and assaulted with a broom handle.

She also has prosecuted members of the Mafia, terrorists accused of trying to bomb the New York City subway system — and in April, her office indicted GOP Rep. Michael Grimm on charges of perjury, tax evasion and fraud.

Grimm, who has accused Lynch of bringing the charges for political reasons, was re-elected to a second term in the U.S. House on Tuesday.

Lynch also has served in private practice and has twice been a federal prosecutor, being confirmed in 2000 and 2010 by the Senate by acclimation. She first served under President Bill Clinton but was not reappointed by President George W. Bush.

She is seen as a Washington outsider with no ties to President Obama. Lynch is close to Holder, however, who appointed her to head a committee that advises him on policy.

The scheduling of Lynch's confirmation hearings remains in the hands of congressional officials.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that he had "spoken with the president about the need to confirm our next attorney general in a reasonable time period, and I look forward to beginning that process."

Congress begins its lame-duck session on Wednesday.

Republicans have promised tough scrutiny of Lynch after many battles with Holder, long an unflinching champion of upholding civil rights in enforcing the nation's laws.

His successor will be left to address several prominent civil rights issues that have been elevated during Holder's tenure.

Among the controversies on Holder's watch include the botched Fast and Furious gun-running scheme that led to the deaths of two federal law-enforcement agents, leading Republicans to seek his impeachment. Critics also accused Holder of failing to hold banks accountable for the economic meltdown.

In June 2012, the House found Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over more than 1,500 pages of Justice Department documents related to Fast and Furious. In congressional testimony in May 2011, the attorney general said that he had heard of Fast and Furious for the first time "over the last few weeks."

On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said that the Justice Department had turned over 64,280 pages of Fast and Furious documents — information that President Obama had claimed was exempt from congressional review.

The panel's GOP chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, called the release an "election eve dump."

In addition, Lynch could be faced with the fallout from the deadly shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

A grand jury investigating the Aug. 9 incident is expected to reach a decision soon, and local officials are bracing for possible public unrest.

Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Saturday that Holder "has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of commitment to enforcing the laws, but more fundamentally, a lack of respect for the constitutional separation of powers.

"Should my colleagues in the Senate decide to confirm Ms. Lynch as the next attorney general, I look forward to working collaboratively with her to fully enforce our laws and safeguard our national security."

Cruz and Lee said that it was important that Lynch disclose whether she supports the Obama administration's position on his plans to legalize as many as 11 million illegal immigrants.

"The attorney general is the president's chief law enforcement officer," the senators said. "As such, the nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law.

"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," they said.

In a meeting with House and Senate leaders the day after the Republicans swept the Senate and picked up the most House seats since World War II, Obama said that he would act unilaterally on immigration by the end of the year.

Obama reportedly flatly rejected an offer from House Speaker John Boehner to work on immigration reform in January during the two-hour session at the White House.

Both McConnell and Boehner attacked Obama's plans, with the speaker warning that any executive action would "poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress.

"When you play with matches, you run the risk of burning yourself," Boehner said.

Lynch's nomination brought praise from the Rev. Al Sharpton. The civil rights leader was linked to her possible selection in news reports this week.

"The nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the new attorney general of the United States is applaudable and deserving," Sharpton said in a statement posted Friday on the website of his organization, the National Action Network. "She is an excellent and worthy choice to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder in his groundbreaking work for the American people.

"I have known Ms. Lynch since she was on the team around the Abner Louima case," he added. "Though we have not always agreed on cases, I have always seen her operate in the most fair, balanced, and just manner.

"Americans would be served greatly by her becoming our next Attorney General and the president should be given kudos for such a nomination," Sharpton said.

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Republicans promised a fair confirmation process for President Barack Obama's choice as attorney general on Saturday, but slammed the White House for nominating Loretta Lynch to the post before the GOP takes full control of Congress in January. President Obama's attorney...
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Saturday, 08 November 2014 07:32 PM
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