President Barack Obama is reportedly planning to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as the nation's top law enforcement official to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder, according to a CNN report.
Lynch, one of the longest-serving attorney generals in American history and a top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, has emerged as the leading contender to replace Holder, according to reports from NPR, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Other potential nominees include Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
If appointed by the White House, the 55-year-old Harvard Law School graduate will become the first African-American woman to head the Justice Department.
Although the CNN report was not explicitly denied by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, he said that the president "hasn't made a decision about who the next attorney general will be."
However, the buzz over Lynch was apparently obvious as "she sat next to Holder for his appearance at a ceremony last week in Brooklyn," according to Fox News. "In her introduction of Holder before an audience that included U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of Manhattan - considered another attorney general contender - a judge made clear who she favors for the job."
"We all hope that the 83rd attorney general is in this room - someone who may be wearing a little orange thing," said U.S. District Judge Carol Amon, referring to a colorful jacket Lynch had on.
According to her official biography from the Justice Department, Lynch, who grew up in Greensboro, N.C., joined the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York in 1990, prosecuting narcotics and violent criminal cases. She was appointed as the U.S. attorney by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and again by President Obama in 2010.
One of Lynch's signature cases is the 1997 sexual assault of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by New York police, where one of the officers involved in the case was sentenced to 30 years in prison, according to NPR. Additionally, her office also indicted Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) on fraud charges earlier this year, according to Reuters.
Although a spokesman for Lynch refused to make comments on the speculation, her supporters have been more vocal.
"She has everything that we would want in an attorney general," said Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson. "She has intelligence, dignity and the ability to be fair, but also tough. I have the utmost respect for her."
Unlike outgoing Holder, the New York Times reported that Lynch has no personal links to Obama or to his policies. And if the president nominates her, it would "be similar to former President George W. Bush's choice of Michael Mukasey, a former judge who was viewed as a less political pick than his previous attorney generals, former Republican Sen. John Ashcroft and former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales," according to TheBlaze.
Meanwhile, Obama will announce the candidate before Thanksgiving, White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in an interview with Bloomberg published Friday.