Loretta Lynch chosen by Obama for attorney general

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Loretta Lynch is President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Eric Holder as the new attorney general. If confirmed, Lynch would be the first black woman to hold the position.

The announcement came officially on Saturday at a White House event arranged after Lynch’s name was reported by the news on Friday. The president had planned to wait until later this month for the announcement, since the Senate had previously asked him not to push for confirmation while Democrats still control the Senate. Now, with Lynch’s name out in the open, the president has asked the Senate to set the pace for the confirmation process, asking that the debate begin as soon as possible.

Lynch, 55, has twice been the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a position which Obama press secretary Josh Earnest described as “one of the most important U.S. attorney’s offices in the country” in a statement.

Lynch is a Washington outsider and not close to the president, assets that may help in her confirmation. The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, 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.” Grassley then added, “I’m hopeful that her tenure, if confirmed, will restore confidence in the attorney general as a politically independent voice for the American people.”

Lynch has already made a name for herself when she filed tax evasion charges against Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who will go to trial in February. In the Eastern District, she also helped prosecute police accused of beating and sexually assaulting Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.