Obama: GOP holding Loretta Lynch 'hostage'

Obama: GOP holding Loretta Lynch 'hostage'
© Francis Rivera

President Obama on Friday chastised Senate Republicans for holding attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch “hostage” as they delay her vote amid a dispute over a human-trafficking bill. 

“You don’t hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues,” Obama told the Huffington Post in an interview.

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Lynch has waited for a Senate confirmation vote for more than 130 days and the White House and Democrats have repeatedly vented their frustration over the Senate’s handling of her nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran On The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (R-Ky.) has said Lynch won’t receive a vote until the Senate passes a bill intended to prevent human trafficking. Democrats have blocked the measure due to concerns about language preventing federal funds from being used for abortions.

When asked whether Democrats should drop their objections to the language in order to speed up Lynch’s confirmation, Obama said they should not back down.

“This is our top law enforcement officer, nobody denies that she is well qualified,” he said. “We need to go ahead and get her done.”

Democrats have escalated their rhetoric against Republicans for delaying Lynch’s confirmation vote.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLet's stop treating student borrowers like second-class citizens Trump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw Hillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group MORE (Ill.), the number-two Senate Democrat, said the GOP is making the first black female attorney general nominee “sit in the back of the bus.” 

The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus also suggested earlier this week that race may be a factor in the delayed vote.

Obama stopped short of saying that race is a factor in the Republicans’ opposition to Lynch.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “What I do know is she is imminently qualified. Nobody denies it, even the Republicans acknowledge she has been a great prosecutor, she has prosecuted terrorists in New York, she has gone after organized crime, she has gone after corruption, her integrity is unimpeachable, by all accounts she is a great manager.”  

The president blamed the delay on dysfunction in the Senate and “a stubbornness on the part of Republicans to move nominees period.” 

Many Republican senators have said they would vote against Lynch's nomination due to concerns about President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. 

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a frequent Obama critic, though has urged his fellow Republicans to confirm Lynch, who is currently the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. 

Obama jabbed at Republicans, noting that GOP bogeyman Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder: 'There are grounds for impeachment' in Mueller report Prosecutor appointed by Barr poised to enter Washington firestorm Dems struggle to make Trump bend on probes MORE will continue to serve as attorney general until Lynch is confirmed. 

“If they really want to get rid of him, the best way to do it is to go ahead and get Loretta Lynch confirmed,” he said.