prosecutor emerges as a top candidate to lead U.S. Justice Department
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[October 28, 2014]
By Aruna Viswanatha and Julia Edwards
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Loretta Lynch, the
head federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, is emerging as a leading candidate
to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, according to people
familiar with the matter, after another top contender withdrew her name
from the running last week.
Lynch, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, and Labor Secretary
Thomas Perez are among those being considered, said the people, who
declined to be named about the private deliberations.
Lynch, 55, has stirred little controversy during two tenures as U.S.
Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and supporters say she
could be easily confirmed. She would also be the first black woman
to lead the U.S. Department of Justice, which could help counter
complaints that the Obama administration is dominated by men.
The White House declined to comment on the search to replace Holder,
who announced on Sept. 25 that he planned to step down.
"We don't have any personnel updates, and are certainly not going to
speculate on any decisions before the president makes them,” White
House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Holder, the first black U.S. Attorney General who came into office
in 2009, has said he will stay in the post until the Senate confirms
A spokeswoman for Lynch, Zugiel Soto, also declined comment.
The administration of President Barack Obama has considered multiple
candidates and the White House is not expected to announce a nominee
until after the midterm elections next week, so a dark horse
candidate could still emerge.
Former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler pulled out of
consideration for the job amid concerns that her involvement in
controversial White House decisions could make it difficult to get
her confirmed by the Senate.
Solicitor General Verrilli and Labor Secretary Perez both have an
advantage of having had a working relationship with Obama. Lynch
does not but she is one of several candidates Holder has encouraged
the White House to look at, two sources said. Vetting inquiries into
Lynch have been underway, sources said.
Lynch has developed a close relationship with Holder from the New
York City borough of Brooklyn while keeping a much lower profile
than her counterpart across the East River, Preet Bharara, the U.S.
Attorney for Manhattan who built his name on a string of big
insider-trading cases and prosecutions of politicians for
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Lynch's office did indict Republican Congressman Michael Grimm in
April for fraud, and has worked with Justice Department headquarters
on several big cases. Her office helped investigate Citigroup Inc
over shoddy mortgage securities the bank sold, which led the bank to
enter into a $7 billion settlement in July. Her office was also
involved in the December 2012 $1.2 billion accord with HSBC over the
bank's lapses in its anti-money laundering controls.
Lynch, who grew up in North Carolina and attended Harvard University
for college and law school, has chaired the attorney general's
advisory committee since the beginning of 2013.
She served previously at the Justice Department, starting as a drug
and violent crime prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's office in 1990.
She also previously headed the office in Brooklyn between 1999 and
2001, when she left for private practice at the law firm Hogan &
Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) and then served as a board member of the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Holder had a rocky tenure as the nation's chief law enforcement
officer. He has been one of Obama's closest allies and frequently
battled with Republicans over gun control, same-sex marriage, and a
desire to try terrorism suspects in civilian instead of military
The next attorney general will likely serve a two-year term and
would take over counter-terror initiatives aimed at Islamic State
militants and challenges balancing privacy rights against government
surveillance efforts. Holder's successor will also have to decide
how far to continue pushing his priorities, including civil rights
and fewer prosecutions of nonviolent drug offenders.
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Karey Van Hall and
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