The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Loretta Lynch as U.S Attorney General after a five-month delay, making her the first African American woman to be the nation’s top law enforcement official.
Before her promotion, Lynch had been serving her second stint as U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District of New York, which prosecutes federal cases on Long Island and parts of New York City. She will replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., who resigned in September but stayed on the job until Lynch was confirmed. The drawn-out debate over her confirmation ended in a 56 to 43 vote, with 10 Republicans joining the Democratic minority in voting for Lynch.
“Loretta is strong and fearless, and she is an ideal choice to lead the Justice Department,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) said. “Not only is she making history as the first African American woman to serve in this role, she is one of our country’s most accomplished and distinguished minds serving in law enforcement.”
President Barack Obama nominated Lynch on Nov. 8, but U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the GOP would not move forward with the confirmation vote until a human trafficking bill was settled. On Friday, Obama said the delay was “crazy” and “embarrassing.”
In her time as LI’s top prosecutor, Lynch has overseen cases high-profile local cases that include those involving terrorists, gangsters, corrupt public officials, Wall Street scammers and human traffickers. Notable cases she’s overseen in her 30 years as a prosecutor include 7-Eleven owners who exploited undocumented immigrants in what Lynch called a “modern day plantation system,” charging reputed mobsters allegedly involved in the infamous $6-million Lufthansa heist 35 years after the fact and al-Qaeda recruits from LI and beyond—those who plotted to blow up the Long Island Rail Road, subway and The Federal Reserve in New York City.
“I will work every day to safeguard our citizens, our liberties, our rights and this great nation,” she said upon her nomination.
When asked who would replace her in the Eastern District, a representative for the office declined to comment.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was among those who offered congratulations to Lynch.
“In addition to being uniquely qualified for this position, Ms. Lynch is also a trailblazer whose long overdue confirmation represents another step forward for our country,” Cuomo said. “I look forward to seeing the leadership she has shown in New York benefit the American people at the helm of the Justice Department in the days to come.”