Tag Archive: Politics< Justice Department

Nov 12 2014

This Is Not the Loretta Lynch You’re Looking For

President Barack Obama has nominated Loretta Lynch, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to replace Attorney General Eric Holder who announced his retirement just before the mid-term election. Her credentials and qualifications for the post are excellent and her record in her current position. She is viewed as a strong civil rights defender, did pro-bono work prosecuting Rwandan war crimes, and has come down hard on public corruption. That said, she will likely follow Holder’s stance on Wall Street and the banking industry that they are too big to prosecute.

Lynch, who joined Holder in Washington over the summer to announce a $16 billion settlement with Bank of America over its conduct leading up to the meltdown, has similarly suggested the federal government is doing everything it can to hold companies accountable.

“[People] want the head of this bank or that investment bank to go to jail, and the types of cases that we actually have been developing tend to be a little bit smaller,” she told a New York civic association last year. “They tend to involve mortgage companies themselves who issued fraudulent mortgages” and may have made misleading statements or received “a kickback.”

“There in fact have been a number of prosecutions like that all over the country,” she said. “But those are smaller cases and they don’t get the kind of attention that people are looking for. So people often don’t think that anything has happened.”

She said it all comes down to “what you can prove.”

“We have to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt their intent was to defraud the public, and sometimes jurors just think they were bad at what they did,” she said.

And there is ample reason in her background to believe that she’ll be no better than Holder in holding the mega-banks accountable. David Dayen at Salon has the evidence:

Lynch’s first job was as a litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel in the mid-1980s. Their litigation department includes the legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who defended the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case (Abrams subsequently argued the Citizens United case, on “campaign money is speech” grounds). But it also does a great deal of white-collar defense in securities and antitrust law, representing companies like AIG, HSBC, Credit Suisse, Bank of America and more. It’s a corporate law firm.

Lynch then served at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn for 11 years, rising to run the office during the end of the Clinton administration, from 1999 to 2001. When she left, she became a partner at Hogan & Hartson (it has since merged to become Hogan Lovells). It’s a giant D.C. law firm specializing in government regulatory, corporate and financial law. Like Cahill Gordon & Reindel, it advises all sorts of corporations, and it even has a separate lobbying firm, one of the top five in the United States. We know that Lynch worked on white-collar criminal defense and corporate compliance while in private practice at Hogan & Hartson. [..]

Now, she was just a litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel. And at Hogan & Hartson she did admirable pro bono work with prosecutors in the Rwandan war crimes tribunal. But what this says is that she has a long history interacting with a certain class of corporate lawyers and executives, understanding their perspective in critical ways.

That’s further buttressed by a strange detour in her legal career – serving as a director of the New York Federal Reserve Board from 2003 to 2005. Here she worked with people like former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill, ex-Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld and ex-Blackstone chairman Pete Peterson.

The directors of the New York Fed don’t play a huge role in supervising Wall Street banks or conducting monetary policy. But their biggest job is to select the president of the organization. And in 2003, Loretta Lynch had one of six votes in the appointment process that eventually put someone named Timothy Geithner in charge.

Ms. Lynch’s association with bankers and the Fed won’t be a reasons not to confirm her. However, her appointment has been stalled by the lame duck Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who said there are more important issues to be resolved before the Republicans take control in January. Also, needless to say, her nomination has come under attack from the Tea Party faction of the Senate and news media, some of it, of course gets it dead wrong:

The conservative news site Breitbart.com suffered a rather awkward pants-down moment when a media watchdog site pointed out Breitbart had confused its Loretta Lynches when publishing an attack on the woman President Obama has nominated to be the next attorney general. The site said the 55-year-old nominee served as one of President Bill Clinton’s defense attorneys during the Whitewater investigation of 1994.

She didn’t. That was a different Loretta Lynch. [..]

The Loretta Lynch Breitbart was referring to – the Whitewater attorney – was also a former California public utilities commissioner. She worked as the director of policy and research for California Gov. Gray Davis (D) and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. Her law degree is from Yale.

California Lynch is 52.

And white.

And blonde.

With blue eyes.

This is nothing new for the right wing, as Rachel Maddow says they create their own parralel unvierse and stick with it.

No, this is not the Loretta they’re looking for either.