U.S. President Barack Obama has named New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to join his Cabinet as attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement official.
Announcing the nomination Saturday, President Obama said he can think of "no better public servant" for the job. Throughout her 30-year career, he said Lynch has distinguished herself as a "tough," "fair" and "independent" lawyer, "aggressively fighting" terrorism, financial fraud and cybercrime, "all while vigorously defending civil rights."
If confirmed by the Senate, Lynch would replace outgoing attorney general Eric Holder and become the first African-American woman to head the Justice Department. Holder was the first African-American man in the post.
Lynch currently is the chief U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York - known as the Eastern District of New York in the U.S. court system. Appearing with President Obama and Holder at the White House Saturday, she pledged that if confirmed, she will work every day to safeguard American citizens and their liberties and rights.
Lynch has served as the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn twice - from 1999 to 2001, and again from 2010 until now.
She and her staff have been responsible for prosecuting many high-profile criminal cases, including tax evasion charges against a current member of Congress, which have not yet gone to trial.
President Obama said Lynch has boldly gone after public corruption, successfully prosecuted terrorists and jailed some of New York's "most violent and notorious mobsters and gang members."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the 55-year-old Harvard Law School graduate is "a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. attorney's offices in the country."
In 2010, Holder appointed Lynch to his advisory committee, and in 2013, he asked her to serve as its chair.
In a statement Saturday, the outgoing attorney general, who has been a target of Republican criticism on Capitol Hill, congratulated Lynch on her nomination. He said she is "uniquely positioned" to build upon the progress he said the Justice Department has made in the past six years, "from advancing criminal justice reform to safeguarding civil rights."
Lynch began her career as a federal prosecutor in 1990, after growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina.