Obama tells GOP: 'Don't hold attorney general nominees hostage'

U.S. President Barack Obama.( Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)
President Barack Obama complained that Senate Republicans delaying the confirmation of his choice for a new attorney general are holding his pick “hostage.” It has been over four months since Loretta Lynch's nomination was announced.

If nominated, Lynch would become the first black woman to serve as the US Attorney General. Her nomination was announced November 8 last year and 130 days have passed since then without confirmation. She is currently the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

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In an interview on Friday with The Huffington Post, President Obama said it was inexcusable for the Senate to hold up the nomination.

You don't hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues,” Obama told the news outlet. “This is our top law enforcement office. Nobody denies that's she well-qualified. We need to go ahead and get her done.

Lynch's confirmation is being held up as a bargaining chip over separate legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that Lynch would not get a vote until the Senate votes on human trafficking legislation. That bill was held up by Democrats when it was discovered that anti-abortion language had been sneaked into the language.

Obama was asked by the Huffington Post if gender bias or race might being playing a role in the delay of Lynch’s confirmation.

I don't know about that,” he said, instead pointing to “Senate dysfunction” and GOP “stubbornness.”

The irony is, of course, that the Republicans really dislike [current Attorney General Eric] Holder. If they really want to get rid of him, the best way to do it is to go ahead and get Loretta Lynch confirmed.”

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New York's former mayor, Rudolf Giuliani, and former FBI Director Louis Freeh also weighed in on the delayed nomination on Friday. They said they were lobbying Republican senators to back Lynch, whom they said was a well-qualified nominee and a distinguished prosecutor.

Look, the nomination is being held up for political reasons,” Freeh told the Washington Post. “The fact of the matter is, she supports the immigration policy of the president. What nominee would come before the Senate for attorney generalship who did not support the policy of the president?”

Several GOP senators, including Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) have said they would not support her nomination because of her support of the president's immigration policy.