President Obama intends to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as his next attorney general, the White House said Friday. If confirmed, she would be the first African American woman to serve in that post.
"Ms. Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest in a statement, adding that both Lynch and outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will join Obama in the Roosevelt Room on Saturday for the announcement.
Lynch "will succeed Eric Holder, whose tenure has been marked by historic gains in the areas of criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement," Earnest said.
CNN reported the possible nomination earlier Friday.
Lynch, who had been rumored to be a leading contender to replace Holder, chairs the Justice Department review commission that has advised Holder on policy decisions. Lynch, 55, has twice been confirmed by the Senate to serve as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, first from 1999 to 2001 and the second time in 2010.
Lynch's office has prosecuted major political corruption, terrorism and organized crime cases. She oversaw the prosecution of New York police officers for brutality in the case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, during her first term in the post. Her office is now prosecuting Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who was just reelected Tuesday, for fraud.
Lynch, the daughter of a Baptist minister, was born and grew up in Greensboro, N.C. She received a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Lynch enjoys the strong support of Democrats as well as progressive activists. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), a close White House ally, issued a one-line statement Friday saying, “Loretta Lynch would make an outstanding Attorney General.”
Alliance for Justice President Nan Aaron, whose group represents a coalition of 100 liberal groups, also cheered the prospect of Lynch's nomination in a statement.
"We are confident that Lynch will build on Holder’s strong legacy of standing up for civil rights and ensuring equal justice for all Americans," she said. "We call on Ms. Lynch to take a leading role in addressing the Supreme Court’s repeated efforts to deny access to the courts and the ballot box."
This post has been updated.