Apr 23 2015
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein today spoke on the Senate floor in support of Loretta Lynch's nomination to be U.S. Attorney General.
Feinstein's remarks as delivered follow:
Mr. President, I would like to make a few remarks about Loretta Lynch. While she should have been confirmed as Attorney General months ago, I want to make the following points: Her qualifications are sterling. Her education, her experience as a U.S. attorney under two Presidents, as well as her accomplishments are unassailable.
I have never seen a nominee in my 22 years handle a confirmation hearing with such poise and answer questions with such command. During her hearing, I said Loretta Lynch was a combination of steel and velvet, and that, to me, sums her up perfectly.
I met with her prior to her hearing and was deeply impressed. I reviewed her stellar record and found her to be a firm yet fair prosecutor—as a matter of fact, probably the prosecutor in one of the toughest districts—the Eastern District of New York—that exists in America.
Having led this very large and important U.S. Attorney's Office under two Presidents, she is a proven leader and she also knows how to bring people together to get the job done. I think that is important.
Let me just talk about national security. The Eastern District of New York, where Ms. Lynch served as U.S. attorney, has led the Nation in terrorism convictions among all U.S. Attorney Offices since 2001. She has overseen these cases. The six individuals connected to Najibullah Zazi, who was part of an Al Qaeda plot and planned to set off bombs on the New York subway system; Rezwanul Nafis, who attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction against the New York Federal Reserve Bank; four individuals, including Russell Defreitas, who plotted to attack JFK Airport; an individual who tried to go to Yemen to join Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; and two individuals who allegedly were members of Al Qaeda and attacked U.S. military forces overseas.
In February, her office announced that three individuals had been charged with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to ISIL. Two were planning to fly to Syria to join ISIL. The third was arrested while boarding a flight to Turkey at JFK. Her office has also charged 11 individuals, alleging that they illegally worked to secure more than $50 million in high-tech equipment for Russian military and intelligence agencies.
At her confirmation hearing, Lynch emphasized the importance of the government having the “full panoply of investigative tools and techniques to deal with the ever-evolving threat of terrorism.” In sum, I am confident she is going to be a very strong voice leading the Justice Department on issues of national security. I can only say I think, as those of us on the Intelligence Committee see--and the Presiding Officer is one of them—this becomes more important every day.
Her experience is just as deep on domestic issues. As U.S. attorney for a major urban district, she clearly understands the importance of protecting us from gangs and organized crime, issues that are front and center in my home State of California.
Her work in this area shows she understands local and international criminal organizations.
In the last year, under her leadership, three individuals connected to a major organized crime family pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy.
A gang leader was found responsible, after a five-week trial, “for six murders, two attempted murder[s], armed robberies, murder-for-hire, narcotics, distribution, and gambling on dog fighting.”
Another gang leader was convicted and sentenced to 37 years in prison for ordering the murder of two individuals, one of whom was believed to be associated with a rival gang.
Three individuals in a New York cell of an international cybercrime organization were also convicted on charges stemming from cyberattacks that resulted in $45 million in losses.
She has also made combatting human trafficking a priority. Over the last decade, her office's anti-trafficking program has indicted more than 55 defendants in sex trafficking cases and rescued more than 110 victims of sex trafficking, including more than 20 minors.
Simply put, Loretta Lynch has been on the frontlines in investigating and prosecuting a range of perpetrators, and I believe she will continue that work as Attorney General.
I would be remiss if I did not express my extreme disappointment in the delay over Ms. Lynch's confirmation. We have before us a nominee with impeccable credentials to serve as the Nation's chief law enforcement officer. During her confirmation, Senator Leahy asked a panel of witnesses who were pro and supposedly con to raise their hands if they opposed her. Not a single witness raised their hand. To me, that spoke volumes.
Even Republicans who will vote against her because they disagree with the President praise her credentials and personal qualifications. But despite all of that, the Senate subjected her to, I think, an inexcusable delay. It is particularly sensitive because this would be the first African-American woman as Attorney General in the history of the United States.
If you look at race relations today and the impartial and important role that the Department of Justice plays, it seems to me that her appointment may well be the most important possible appointment at this particular point in time. Her nomination has been pending for 56 days on the floor. That is more than twice as long as the seven most recent Attorneys General combined.
So, hopefully, it is done now. I recognize the other side will say they could not move the nomination because of the trafficking bill or for some other reason. But the fact remains that, historically, we customarily move back and forth between executive and legislative business. We could have done that here as well. We have confirmed district judges, we have confirmed individuals who serve in various other executive capacities, including subcabinet positions. So we could have easily considered the nominee for one of the most important posts in this government.
Let me conclude with this. I regret that a vote on her nomination cannot be unanimous. I hope it will be close to that. I do not think that will be possible. She is that good. She deserves a unanimous vote. She is as fine as I have seen in my time in the Senate.
Senator Durbin remarked in committee that her confirmation will be a truly momentous occasion for the Senate and for our Nation. He said this should be a “solemn, important, and historic moment for America.” I truly believe he was right. I truly believe this is an uncommon nominee at an uncommon time who can display a tremendous will, drive, motivation, and sense of justice as our U.S. Attorney General. I am very honored to cast my vote in favor of her nomination.