Hours after the White House insisted President Barack Obama hadn't made a decision on a new attorney general, officials announced he is nominating Loretta Lynch, a U.S. attorney in New York.
Lynch, an African-American woman with a Harvard law degree, has served two stints as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and has the strong support of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
The move likely will be a disappointment to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which pushed hard for Obama to name Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, a former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
But Perez would face a major confirmation battle and might only get through the Senate if Democrats jam a pick through in the coming weeks before Republicans take over.
Lynch, who doesn't have an extensive political résumé, could have an easier time getting through the Senate, especially with Schumer, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, as her sherpa.
“Loretta Lynch is a consummate professional, has a first-rate legal mind and is committed in her bones to the equal application of justice for all people," Schumer said in a statement. "I was proud to recommend her to be the US Attorney for my home community of the Eastern District of New York, and I will be prouder still to champion what must be her swift confirmation in the Senate.”
Lynch made waves earlier this year in congressional circles when she announced the indictment of Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.
Grimm won re-election easily on Tuesday but now faces trial.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, current ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, congratulated Lynch on the nomination.
"Being selected to serve as our nation’s top law enforcement officer is both a tremendous honor and responsibility," he said. "As we move forward with the confirmation process, I have every confidence that Ms. Lynch will receive a very fair, but thorough, vetting by the Judiciary Committee. 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. I’m hopeful that her tenure, if confirmed, will restore confidence in the Attorney General as a politically independent voice for the American people.”
She'll likely face numerous questions from Republicans , including about the legality of the president's planned executive actions on immigration, something that has become an early flashpoint after the midterm elections .
It's not clear yet if Democrats will push to confirm her before Republicans take control of the Senate in January.
Here's the statement from Press Secretary Josh Earnest:
Tomorrow, the President will announce his intent to nominate U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to be the Attorney General of the United States. The President will make the announcement in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, and will be joined by Attorney General Holder and Ms. Lynch. Ms. Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country. She will succeed Eric Holder, whose tenure has been marked by historic gains in the areas of criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement.Related: 10 Questions for Holder's Replacement Congressional Hispanic Caucus: All In on Perez for Attorney General Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.