Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee to become the next attorney general, is expected to undergo tough questioning about her leading role in the Justice Department's investigation into the chokehold death of Eric Garner, but most do not believe it will derail her chances.
"I think it will be an issue, but I don’t think it is going to be outcome determinative. She’s got a job to do, and until she gets to be attorney general, I expect her to do her job, and I will not hold it against her for doing her job," said South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, according to The New York Times
It was anticipated that Lynch would face stern questions from Republicans, who have not had a good relationship with current Attorney General Eric Holder, particularly on the issue of Obama's executive actions on immigration.
Her views on the Justice Department's involvement in the Michael Brown and Garner cases, as well as broader investigations into police department tactics, will add a new twist to the process.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), said he hoped the department would approach the events that triggered unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and protests in New York with a sense of independence.
"The Department of Justice needs to be careful not to politicize events but at the same time the Department of Justice has the authority to independently investigate these cases. I suppose her recommendation as U.S. attorney there would be a key recommendation in what’s decided," said Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions in an interview with Politico
"I doubt I’ll be asking about that," added Sessions.
On Wednesday, Lynch was in attendance when Holder announced the department would "conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation" and "a complete review of the material gathered during the [Garner] investigation
In her capacity as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch will have a supervisory role in department's probe into whether the actions of New York City police Officer Daniel Pantaleo constituted a violation of Garner’s civil rights.
Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he did not see how the Garner matter would derail Lynch's nomination.
"I can’t think how [it would affect it], but I guess we’ll find out," he told Businessweek
Lynch has been confirmed twice
by the Senate, both times for her role as the U.S. Attorney.
Initially there was talk within the Democratic caucus of pushing Lynch's nomination through a lame-duck Congress, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
confirmed in November that they would wait until a new Congress is sworn in, reported Politico.
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