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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 McConnellWhat would MLK say about Trump and the Republican Party? Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party 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 DurbinDick DurbinOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial 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 HolderWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Joe Biden's continued 'Russian misinformation' defense of Hunter is conspiracy-level laughable Tyson fires 7 after probe into managers coronavirus betting 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.