Is Loretta Lynch a Game Changer or Game Piece?

Early reports are promising but important questions remain

President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who he has nominated to be Attorney General. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who he has nominated to be Attorney General. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

For the last six years, we’ve witnessed the increasing politicization and weaponization of every agency of the federal government—from the IRS to the Department of Justice. We saw the Attorney General proudly proclaim his social “activism,” defy Congress, commit perjury, undermine the Rule of law, become the first Attorney General held in contempt of Congress, and proudly protect corrupt prosecutors. Finally, Eric Holder will exit stage left as President Obama has nominated United States Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace him.

The Attorney General of the United States of America is the lynchpin for all law enforcement. He or she sets the tone for the fair administration of justice nationwide. Legendary Attorney General Robert H. Jackson long ago said, “Law enforcement is not automatic. It isn’t blind. One of the greatest difficulties of the position of prosecutor is that he must pick his cases, because no prosecutor can even investigate all of the cases in which he receives complaints. . . . If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted.. . . [Ultimately] the citizen’s safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.”

Do those immortal words describe Loretta Lynch? Published and non-published reports reveal that she is highly regarded and widely touted as a straight shooter. She runs a good, solid United States Attorney’s Office, where she took challenging cases but prosecuted them properly in a professional and ethical manner. That is good news.

Last week’s election includes a resounding referendum that Americans are sick of liars in our government. Our country is starved for honest, forthright leadership and want our government officials to follow the laws with which they seek to punish others. The double standard that holds anyone in the government above the law is no longer acceptable, and Eric Holder is leaving one helluva mess.

The burning question is what mandate has the President given Loretta Lynch? Is she to clean up the Department of Justice and the Holder mess—or is she to protect Mr. Obama and now Mr. Holder at all costs? Frankly, there’s no indication this President even sees a problem warranting correction.

Congress never received the documents in the Fast and Furious scandal for which it held Attorney General Holder in contempt. Will Ms. Lynch disclose those documents, or has she sworn to defend Mr. Holder instead of the Constitution? Will she produce the emails written to Mr. Holder’s wife and mother about the Fast and Furious disaster—or will she defend the indefensible assertion of privilege? Is she going to protect the Rule of Law and the Constitution— or is she simply another protector of a lawless President?

And what about the IRS scandal, its arrogant Commissioner, and the perfidious Lois Lerner? Is Ms. Lynch a good enough prosecutor to find the IRS emails that every 15-year-old in the country knows are readily available? Will she end the waste of taxpayer dollars being expended to hide evidence that the IRS wrongfully targeted conservative groups? Will she de-politicize the Internal Revenue Service or does she even see there is a problem?

Does she recognize that the Department has been protecting prosecutors who have intentionally or recklessly violated the law and rules of ethics? Has she read the report of the Project on Government Oversight? And Will she disclose the names of and fire the Department of Justice lawyers who have been identified by the Department’s own Office of Professional Responsibility to intentionally or recklessly withheld evidence from the defense?

Her soon-to-be subordinate, Leslie Caldwell, the head of the criminal division of the Department, just told the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers that she was unaware of any prosecutors in the Department who have committed misconduct. That itself would explain a lot of the problem, but it can only be described as willful blindness. Of course, somehow, Ms. Caldwell “sailed through” her confirmation hearings, despite being “outed” for her role in the unlawful destruction of Arthur Andersen LLP in my new book, LICENSED TO LIE: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

One of the many things we need to know is how Ms. Lynch will define and apply the Supreme Court’s “Brady rule,” pursuant to which the government has a legal and ethical obligation to disclose all evidence favorable to a defendant. And will she insist the Department support the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act or its equivalent? While that sounds like a “no-brainer,” having been introduced in a massive bi-partisan effort, supported by the ACLU, the ABA, The National Chamber of Commerce, and bar associations nationwide, the bill died shortly after the now ironically named Department of Justice opposed it.

Hailing from my home state of North Carolina, Ms. Lynch is the kind of person who could make a positive difference and restore much-needed integrity to the DOJ. That will only happen if she doesn’t fall into the Holder trap and become the President’s newest pawn. To be the great attorney general we so desperately need, she will need to separate herself from Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? For the sake of the Constitution, not to mention the country, let’s pray not. Is Loretta Lynch a Game Changer or Game Piece?