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Obama attends funeral of longtime friend, ambassadorial nominee

Obama attends funeral of longtime friend, ambassadorial nominee
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President Obama on Tuesday evening attended the funeral of longtime friend and former adviser Cassandra Quin Butts, who died suddenly last week from leukemia. 

Obama praised Butts as "a warrior for social justice, a warm and generous servant who devoted her life to bettering the lives of others." 
 
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He told mourners at Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church how Butts came to earn his trust and friendship starting during their time in law school and then in politics. 
 
The president choked up as he spoke about her "fundamental kindness." 
 
"She was a kind person," he said, according to a reporter at the service. "It turns out, as you get older, kindness counts for a lot."
 
The ceremony drew other well-known figures from the worlds of politics and media, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderSenate panel dukes it out over voting rights Progressive groups announce M voting rights effort Congress in lockdown: Will we just 'get used to it'? MORE, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and PBS anchor Gwen Ifill.

Butts, 50, was a classmate of Obama’s at Harvard Law School. She worked on the president’s transition team and as a deputy White House counsel before he nominated her in February 2014 to serve as ambassador to the Bahamas. 

But she died before the Senate held a vote on her confirmation, with a total of 835 days elapsing between the day she was nominated and the day she died. 

The delay drew renewed interest after Butts’s death. 

“All Cassandra wanted to do was serve her country,” Valerie Jarrett, an aide to Obama, told New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.

Butt’s nomination was blocked by Republican senators, including Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' GOP lawmakers block Biden assistance to Palestinians Cruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' MORE (Texas) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonMcConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists POW/MIA flag moved back atop White House MORE (Ark.), over unrelated issues. 

Cotton put a hold on Butts and two other ambassadorial nominees over a Secret Service leak of private information about a member of Congress.

Knowing of Butts’s relationship with Obama, he eventually lifted holds on the other two nominees, but not her, in order to anger the president, she told Bruni.