WASHINGTON — President Obama intends to nominate the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn to become the next attorney general and the first black woman to lead the Justice Department.
Obama’s spokesman said Friday that he will announce his selection of Loretta Lynch from the White House on Saturday. If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September.
Lynch, 55, is the U.S. attorney for Eastern New York, a position she held during the Clinton administration.
“Ms. Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country,” Obama press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
“Her long experience in an office with a very diverse portfolio — with high-profile cases involving terrorism, violent crime, police brutality, corruption and health care fraud — suggests that she’ll be able walk right in and get to work,” Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor who teaches law at Columbia University, told Time magazine.
The White House said Obama is leaving it up to Senate leadership to determine whether she should be confirmed this year while Democrats are in control or next year after Republicans take over. But the White House said their hope is she will be confirmed as soon as possible.
Democrats on Capitol Hill have told the White House it would be difficult to win confirmation for a new attorney general during the lame-duck session of Congress beginning next week.
Republicans are promising tough scrutiny after years of battles with Holder, who is close to Lynch and appointed her as chair of a committee that advises him on policy.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, expressed “every confidence that Ms. Lynch will receive a very fair, but thorough, vetting by the Judiciary Committee.”
One lawmaker in particular is very familiar with her work. Lynch filed tax evasion charges against Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican accused of hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages while running a restaurant. Grimm, who won re-election Tuesday, has pleaded not guilty and is to go to trial in February.