WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Department evaluators gave mostly high ratings to the management skills of Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, in a report made public five days before she faces a Senate confirmation hearing.
The evaluation depicts Lynch, currently the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, as a hands-on manager who personally reviews all indictments, meets regularly with top staff and helps make decisions on major cases. The report found no significant morale problems within the office and called her “exceptionally well-qualified” for the position she holds.
“She is bright, articulate and charismatic and is truly an exemplar of efficient stewardship and managerial excellence,” states the evaluation, which was conducted in 2012 and made public Friday. It was written by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, an arm of the Justice Department whose responsibilities include peer reviews of prosecutors’ offices.
But the review also identified areas for improvement, including the office’s responsiveness to public records requests made under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The Senate Judiciary Committee released a copy of the report Friday after its chairman, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, requested a copy. Obama nominated Lynch in November to succeed outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Her confirmation hearings are set for Wednesday and Thursday before Grassley’s panel, and the full Senate also must approve her appointment.
Lynch is not expected to face major hurdles during the confirmation process, though in the new Republican-majority Senate some lawmakers already have signaled that they plan to question her aggressively on whether she’ll support Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration. They’ll also likely be looking for assurances of a greater rapport with Lynch than they’ve had with Holder, who often clashed with Republicans during trips to Capitol Hill and was even held in contempt by the House over a document dispute.
Lynch since 2010 has been the top prosecutor for a district that includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, having also held that role from 1999 to 2001. As a prosecutor, she was best known for her work in the case of Abner Louima — a Haitian immigrant who was beaten and sodomized by New York City police officers while in custody.
The evaluation said Lynch’s office met most Justice Department standards, including caseload for prosecutors, professional responsibility and budget management.
But the report also found that Lynch’s office did not effectively supervise its FOIA program, did not respond to requests for records in a timely way and did not conduct regular training on the topic for its staff. The office also had a “substantial backlog of requests,” and the designated FOIA contact has never attended recommended training, the report said.
In a letter to Grassley accompanying a copy of the report, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said the evaluation showed that the office had flourished under Lynch’s “outstanding leadership,” and that corrective steps had been taken in the few areas that were designated for improvement.
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