At Loretta Lynch’s Confirmation Hearing, Senators Air Holder Grievances

By Julianne Hing Jan 28, 2015

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has rattled plenty of senators. On Wednesday, Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to replace him, sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an hours-long confirmation hearing full of the usual political posturing from both parties. It also functioned as an airing of the ill will Republican members of Congress have toward Holder.

Lynch, a U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, has sought to distance herself from Holder and she continued in that vein on Wednesday. She unflappably portrayed herself as a disciplined public servant with much less interest in the progressive politicking that Holder took up.

A quick check-off list of her stances on hot-button topics: Lynch called the death penalty an "effective penalty;" and said that Obama’s latest executive action on immigration was founded in a "reasonable" legal rationale. She considers waterboarding torture, "and therefore illegal." She called the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs "certainly constitutional and effective," and said "few things have pained" her more than "reports of tension and division" between police officers and the communities they serve. 

And she was game to play along when Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pointedly asked her: "You’re not Eric Holder, are you?" "No, I’m not," Lynch replied.

"Attorney General Holder’s record is heavy on our minds," Cornyn continued. "And I agree with the chairman about his concerns when the attorney general refers to himself as the president’s wingman, suggesting that he does not exercise independent legal judgment, as the chief law-enforcement officer for the country. You wouldn’t consider yourself to be a political arm of the White House as attorney general, would you?" Cornyn continued.

"No, senator, that would be an inapporpriate use of the–" Lynch said, before Cornyn cut her off. 

"I will be Loretta Lynch," she later said, when Cornyn asked her how she planned not to be Holder. 

If confirmed Lynch will be the first black woman to hold the position.