President Barack Obama has announced his intention to nominate federal prosecutor, Loretta Lynch, as the replacement for outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. If confirmed, this will make Lynch the first black woman to head the Justice Department. Lynch, 55, is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The area covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.
During her tenure as a prosecutor she has taken on the mafia, corrupt political officials and abusive police officers.For Obama to nominate Lynch during what is called a “ lame-duck” session of Congress is a decisive move by the president. There is a promise of a tough road to confirmation in a Republican controlled House and Senate for Lynch. One lawmaker, Congressman Michael Grimm, is currently being prosecuted based on Lynch’s work. Grimm is accused of hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages while running a restaurant and was charged with tax evasion by Lynch’s office. Despite these criminal accusations against Grimm, he won reelection this past week. His trial is set for February 2015 and he has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lynch is also responsible for bringing charges against New York mafia captain Vincent Asaro and his Bonanno family crew in a 36-year-old cold case. Asaro, was one of the masterminds behind the famous Luftansa Airlines robbery in 1978. More than $6 million in cash and jewelry was stolen from Kennedy Airport which was the largest cash robbery of its time and was made famous in the movie Goodfellas.
Lynch has also proven that she has no fear of taking on the NYPD and its “blue code of silence.” She was one of the prosecutorial team members who brought charges against police officers who beat and sexually abused Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Obama press secretary Josh Earnest stated “Miss Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who was twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country.”
Lynch was born in North Carolina and received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University. Despite graduating from the same school as President Obama, she is considered not very close to the president. This distance may have been calculated to shield Obama from political backlash and accusations of cronyism.