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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 23, 2017

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US Senate confirms Loretta Lynch as attorney general

The first African-American female in the position

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Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General, PHOTO CREDIT: BNN news

WASHINGTON - Loretta Lynch was confirmed on Thursday as US attorney general by the Senate after a wait of more than five months. She is the 83rd attorney general and the first African-American female in the position.

Lynch, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, was confirmed 56 to 43, with 10 Republicans voting for her.

Her confirmation took longer than that for all but two other nominees for the office: Edwin Meese III, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and A. Mitchell Palmer, who was picked by President Woodrow Wilson, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Ten Republicans voted for Lynch, 55, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She is expected to take over as head of the US Justice Department on Monday, replacing Eric Holder.

The voting margin reflected many Republicans' disapproval of Lynch's support for an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in November that was meant to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.

"Today, the Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch to be America's next attorney general and America will be better off for it," Obama said in a statement after the Senate vote.

Holder said he was "pleased" and congratulated Lynch in a statement released after the vote.

"I have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years, and I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the department in which we have both been privileged to serve," Holder said in the statement.

Lynch has awaited confirmation since November when Obama, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, nominated her.

Despite the delay, she was widely seen as less controversial than Holder, who often clashed with Republicans. She has said she aims to smooth relations with Congress.

Lynch has at least 21 months, the time remaining in Obama's presidency, to make her mark as attorney general. She could serve longer, if Obama is succeeded by a Democrat.

Among her earliest tests is likely to be handling civil rights cases stemming from deadly altercations between police and unarmed black men in several US cities. The Justice Department has said it will look into bringing civil rights charges over the death of a Baltimore man who died after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Lynch will also inherit major financial cases involving allegations that some of the world's largest banks helped clients evade US taxes and manipulated the currency markets, reports Reuters.

She has twice served as US attorney in Brooklyn, New York, most recently since 2010. Her office there handled more terrorism prosecutions than most other offices in the United States. For two years, she also led a committee that advised the attorney general on policy.

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