Biden: New attorney general is 'cut from the exact same cloth' as Holder

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday promised to use “justice as our compass” as she replaced Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderVoter suppression bills are the first move in a bigger battle Holder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Senate panel dukes it out over voting rights MORE in President Obama’s Cabinet.

Lynch, a former federal prosecutor, was sworn into office by Vice President Biden, becoming the first female African-American attorney general after a Senate confirmation battle that spanned more than 160 days.

She was confirmed last Thursday by a vote of 56-43, with 10 Republicans backing her.


"It's about time this woman is being sworn in," said Biden, who handled the ceremonial duties.

Her confirmation took longer than expected after Senate Republicans said they would not vote on her nomination in March until the upper chamber cleared an anti-human-trafficking bill that previously included controversial language about abortion.

Lynch also faced delays in the committee process before her nomination was sent to the Senate floor for a vote.

The journey to becoming the nation’s chief law enforcement officer seemed “impossible” at times, Lynch said.

Biden called it an “incredible moment” for Lynch, who he said is “leading the march toward a more perfect union."

Lynch, 55, is respected in both parties as a tough prosecutor, but many Republicans expressed concerns that she would bow to President Obama’s immigration agenda.


Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate locks in hate crimes deal, setting up Thursday passage Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee House votes to extend ban on fentanyl-like substances MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said last week that while “no one disputes that she has an impressive legal background,” the “question for me from the start has been whether Ms. Lynch will make a clean break from his policies and take the department in a new direction.”

The GOP clashed repeatedly with Holder during his tenure. Republicans point to everything from Holder’s support for the president’s controversial immigration policies to the Justice Department’s failed gun-running program, known as “Fast and Furious,” to criticize him as an ineffective attorney general.

Some Senate Republicans who voted in favor of Lynch said they were eager to get Holder out of office.

Democrats see Holder as a champion of civil rights, and Biden was quick to defend him at the swearing-in ceremony.

“He is, in my view, one of the finest attorney generals we’ve ever had,” Biden said, commending Holder for having “stood his ground in this political environment.”

Lynch is “cut from the exact same cloth,” Biden said.

Criminal justice reform is likely to be at the top of Lynch’s agenda, following the killings of several unarmed black men that have stoked tensions between minority communities and law enforcement.

Lynch talked about the need “to not just represent the law and enforce it, but to use it to make real the promise of America, the promise of fairness and equality, of liberty and justice for all."

"We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them,” she said at the ceremony.

This story was updated at 2:12 p.m.