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Former Rep. William Jefferson may soon get date to report to prison
Apr-19-2012 590 0


A court hearing Friday could determine whether former Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, will begin serving his 13-year corruption sentence before summer. Some legal experts expect federal prosecutors to ask Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presided over Jefferson's six-week 2009 trial, to revoke Jefferson's $50,000 bail and set a date for him to begin his sentence.

Ellis also could allow Jefferson to self report by a court-imposed deadline.

After sentencing Jefferson, Ellis rejected calls by prosecutors to imprison him immediately and instead allowed him to remain free with an electronic monitor pending resolution of his appeals.

Friday's hearing was scheduled after Jefferson's lawyers failed to meet last week's deadline for filing an appeal with the full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal experts said the decision indicates his lawyers will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge a unanimous ruling last month by a three-judge 4th Circuit panel rejecting Jefferson's request for a new trial.

The high court probably won't decide whether to take the case -- and they accept only a tiny percentage -- until next fall.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, who has been closely following the case, said it is possible prosecutors will argue the unanimous verdict by the 4th Circuit panel makes it unlikely he'll succeed with his Supreme Court appeal.

Ellis "has been pretty strict when it comes to corruption cases," Tobias said, "and if the prosecutors move to (set a date to report to prison) the judge may well grant it."

Kevin Thomas, a consultant with the MPM Group, which helps clients with sentence-mitigation efforts, said he thinks it's likely prosecutors will prevail.

"It was unusual for him (Jefferson) to stay out after sentencing and I would be shocked if the judge let him stay out now that the appellate court has ruled," Thomas said. "But then again his attorney (Robert Trout) is formidable and he could talk a starving dog off a meat wagon."

Jefferson, 65, isn't likely to be remanded into prison immediately, though. In a filing with Judge Ellis, lead prosecutor Mark Lytle expressed no objections if Jefferson chose not to attend Friday's session at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va.

Neither Lytle nor Trout would comment Wednesday.

Tobias said it's no surprise Jefferson's lawyers decided not to file an appeal with the full 4th Circuit, given the unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel.

In a 64-page ruling issued March 26, the appellate judges rejected the legal arguments by Jefferson that Judge Ellis erroneously instructed the jury about what the accepted practice is for official acts by a member of Congress.

Jefferson's lawyers argued the government had dramatically expanded the definition -- taking it beyond what most consider official acts, such as casting votes, introducing bills and committee work -- to include influencing foreign officials in Western Africa on behalf of private business executives.

"The (judge's) instructions did not in any way supplant the statutory definition of what constitutes an official act; it simply explained to the jury that an official act need not be prescribed by statute, but rather may include acts that a congressman customarily performs," according to the three judges.

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reuters May-27-2015 53 0
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday in favor of 26 states challenging President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, potentially paving the way for a Supreme Court decision on the issue.

Two judges on the three-judge panel ruled that the executive action, which would grant an estimated 4.7 million undocumented immigrants relief from deportation, should remain on hold while the government appeals its blocking.

The immigration order was first put on hold by Texas Judge Andrew Hanen in February after the states, all led by Republican governors, alleged that taking in migrants would be overly burdensome.

"The President’s attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked again today," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a news release.

The case has become the focal point of Obama's efforts to change U.S. immigration policy.

Seeing no progress on legislative reform in Congress, Obama announced in November he would take executive action to help immigrants. He has since faced criticism from Republicans who say the program grants amnesty to lawbreakers.

The White House said the two judges who ruled against the administration on Tuesday chose to "misinterpret the facts and the law."

"The president's actions... are squarely within the bounds of his authority and they are the right thing to do for the country," White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said.

The Justice Department is evaluating the ruling and considering next steps, a U.S. official said on the condition of anonymity.

The 5th Circuit will rule again in the coming months on whether the Obama administration can appeal the block to the executive order. That decision may be made by a new panel of judges and will take into account more evidence.

Immigration advocates have been wary of the prospect that the 5th Circuit, known as one of the most conservative in the nation, would rule with the administration.

"We are disappointed, but this is not unexpected at all," Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said on a conference call with reporters.

Hincapie said the immigration advocate community is still optimistic the executive order will prevail, even if it means waiting until the Supreme Court can rule on it.

ELECTION RAMIFICATIONS

If it is denied an appeal, the Obama administration may ask the Supreme Court to consider the case, potentially delaying the launch of the immigration programs until June 2016.

That could bring up the issue at a politically important time, said Marshall Fitz, vice president of immigration policy at left-leaning Washington think tank Center for American Progress.

"If the programs go into effect next June, there will be real electoral consequences," Fitz said. "There is a clear contrast between (Democratic front-runner Hillary) Clinton and any Republican in the current field."

Clinton has said she would like to see Obama's action expanded to shield even more immigrants from deportation.

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Cameron Joseph May-22-2015 96 0
Hillary Clinton already has the support of Ja Rule and Snoop Dogg, and now 50 Cent is rockin’ to the beat of “It’s Hillary time.”

The Queens-born rapper, actor and entrepreneur said he respected the Democratic presidential candidate’s positions and said her time as former President Clinton’s First Lady gives her experience in the White House.

“I also think Hillary was the President already once. You know what I’m sayin’?” 50 Cent told the Daily Beast in an article that ran Thursday.

“Some of the things she says feel really comfortable, and roll off. When people are really close with each other, they use each other as soundboards because they’re the other person’s best friend.”

50 Cent told the Daily Beast he’ll back Clinton in the 2016 presidential primary.

He also gave her props for sticking with her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

“Things happen at points, and her seeing past that made her human to me,” he said.

“It made that love between her and Bill real to me. When you make other people feel different because of what they’ve conditioned themselves to feel about the subject, it made me look at her and think she’s made life choices that she’s willing to stand by.”

Snoop Dogg said earlier this week on Bravo that he’ll be backing Clinton “to have a woman speaking from a global perspective as far as representing America.”

Ja Rule made his endorsement official on Fox Business earlier this month, though it was a little lukewarm.

“I like Hillary. I like Hillary. But, you know, it’s crazy because ... I also think Jeb is a good candidate as well,” Ja Rule said of expected Republican candidate Jeb Bush.

R&B artist Ne-Yo has also suggested he’ll back Clinton.

Other music royalty are also on board. Beyoncé, a family friend of the Obamas, attended a Clinton fund-raiser last week, which Clinton’s team tweeted about. It’s unclear whether her husband, Jay Z, is backing Clinton.

And Waka Flocka Flame, 28, told MTV in April that he’ll back her because “women can do the same s--t men can do.”

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Eric L. Hinton May-20-2015 183 0
As first reported by the Washington Post Tuesday, anyone surfing Google Maps who types in the racist slur ‘N---- house’ will automatically be directed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, more commonly known as The White House.

‘Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be and we apologize for any offense this may have caused,’ a Google spokeswoman said. But, as of Wednesday morning the 'glitch' was still occurring.

It’s unknown if the incident has been caused by a rogue Google employee or something akin to a ‘Google Bomb,’ which occurs when users virtually flood the site with a particular keyword which tricks Google’s algorithms into making an error.

The White House had yet to respond to the incident Wednesday morning.

But, outrage among social media users spread quickly Wednesday .

‘So I just goggled the word ‘Ni--erhouse and the White House popped up. If that ain’t racist I don’t know what is,’ Twitter user Gizzle wrote.

‘How long is it gonna take you to fix this ‘n---- house situation @google’ asked I am TrillaB.

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May-15-2015 154 0
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson denied sexual harassment claims a former city aide made against him, saying Thursday he never pressed his body against her and asked her if she "felt it" before leaning in for a kiss at City Hall.

The incidents Estrellita Ilee Muller described in claims filed last month against the California mayor "simply never happened — ever," Johnson told reporters during a brief news conference.

The 32-year-old ex-worker in the Sacramento city manager's office said Johnson sexually harassed her multiple times over a seven-month period at City Hall.

That included one instance in 2013 inside the mayor's private library, where he allegedly pressed their bodies together and touched her along her torso, according to a copy of the claim obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

Muller claimed Johnson "asked her if she felt it" and tried to kiss her before admitting he "had a thing" for her for the past four years, the claim says.

She also accused Johnson of later swinging by her desk to see if she was "game" to have sex, asking for a thumbs up if her answer was yes.

The allegations were found to be unsubstantiated, and the claim was denied, according to Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez, whose office hired independent law counselor Carolee Kilduff to investigate.

The case is considered closed, Johnson told reporters Thursday.

"As an elected official, I understand that I am a target of attacks," he said.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson came under fire for sexual harassment allegations a former city aide made against him.

"And I understand that even though this is an allegation — one that independent counsel has found to have absolutely no merit — it will generate headlines and wound me, my family, and our city. That is sad and disappointing on so many levels."

Muller sought $200,000 in damages from the city when she filed the claim with the City Clerk's Office in April, according to The Sacramento Bee.

It's unclear if she plans to file a civil lawsuit, or whether a paid settlement was reached.

Muller's attorney Etan Rosen did not return multiple requests for comment from the Daily News on Friday.

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May-12-2015 112 0
The exact site of the Barack Obama presidential library and museum won't be determined for six to nine months, but for many, the critical piece of information confirmed Tuesday is that the president chose Chicago's South Side to be the home of his legacy..

"Ultimately, Barack and Michelle decided to return to their roots," Obama Foundation Chairman Martin Nesbitt said in making the formal announcement shortly after noon Tuesday in Chicago. "The same streets where a young community organizer once inspired his community to take action will serve as the home base for a foundation that will organize and inspire people of all backgrounds and beliefs to better their communities, their country and their world."

But, Nesbitt added, "We have a lot of work to do."

Accompanied by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and others on the platform at the Gary Comer Youth Center, Nesbitt said the two possible locations — Jackson and Washington parks — "are both good physical sites," but that "due diligence" in analyzing each site will take time.

The Barack Obama Presidential Center likely will open in 2020 or 2021, Nesbitt said.

Many questions and thorny issues are ahead: how much the surrounding community will benefit; whether longtime residents will be driven out; and how the center and public infrastructure surrounding it will be funded.

But for the moment, Chicago is setting aside its reputation for political gamesmanship and celebrating.

"I'm not going to compare this to when the president was elected," said Ghian Foreman, a lifelong South Sider who was active in bringing the library here. "But it's the same kind of thing, where you could take a deep breath. It's this feeling of elation and a collective sigh of relief, that, after all these weeks, it's really here."

The president and first lady Michelle Obama first announced that the library would be on the South Side via a video posted on the foundation website at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Chicago had been a front-runner for months, given its strong connection to the Obamas: The president became a community activist on the South Side after law school, taught at the University of Chicago law school and was first elected to public office as a state senator from the South Side. Michelle Obama was born and raised in the area.

"All the strands of my life came together and I really became a man when I moved to Chicago," the president said in the video. "That's where I was able to apply that early idealism to try to work in communities in public service. That's where I met my wife. That's where my children were born."

Michelle Obama said in the video that she was "thrilled to be able to put this resource in the heart of the neighborhood that means the world to me. Every value, every memory, every important relationship to me exists in Chicago. I consider myself a South Sider."

Another South Sider, activist and former DuSable Museum of African American History President Carol Adams, had heard the rumors that the library was going to be on the South Side. But she reserved her exuberance for when the foundation released its formal decision, Adams said Tuesday.

Adams said her phone lit up with text messages and emails, and her social media feed was full of people cheering the early morning announcement.

"I think it's a wonderful game changer that is coming to our community," she said. "It is so huge. It will give us the quantum leap that we have been looking for. Things can change rapidly, and we need quick things to happen in our challenged neighborhoods. We need jobs and the big names that come with this project."

She said either site would be beneficial.

The excitement extended to the West Side, even though a bid from the University of Illinois at Chicago that would have directly benefited the West Side lost to the South Side proposal.

"I couldn't be more excited for the city of Chicago," said Marcus Betts, co-chairman of the North Lawndale Community Development Coalition. "I couldn't imagine the library being any place other than Chicago."

Betts said he'd spoken with a Barack Obama Foundation representative a day earlier and had received assurances that the foundation would include "some collaboration" with UIC.

"But today, the city of Chicago should celebrate as one," he said.

Public officials lined up to join the cheering. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Obama's legacy "will be preserved right where it belongs: sweet home Chicago." U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley called it "a tremendous honor" and referred to the city's important place in Obama's ascent. "The library will preserve this unique and special moment in history for generations to come."

The selection caps a yearlong competition that began with 13 bids that eventually were narrowed down to four finalists.

For more than a year, the U. of C. had been engaged in a fierce competition with Columbia University in New York, the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and UIC.

While the foundation said it would collaborate with the University of Chicago, it plans to also work with the three other finalists.

"The foundation intends to maintain a presence at Columbia University for the purpose of exploring and developing opportunities for a long term association," the foundation said in a statement. - See more at: http://blacklegalissues.com/Article_Details.ASPX?ARTCLID=4bae9f05af&cat=Legal#sthash.vMiqaW6a.dpuf

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Nicole Hensley May-11-2015 108 0
In the aftermath of a domestic squabble, a Detroit lawmaker allegedly grabbed a firearm and shot up his girlfriend’s new car, local reports said.

The late night shotgun blast triggered by state Sen. Virgil Smith on Sunday struck the victim’s 2015 Mercedes-Benz at least once, police sources told the Detroit News.

The violent act outside Smith’s north Detroit home landed the second-term senator into police custody with a noon arrest, the News added.

Wayne County jail records do not show a listing for Smith.

The case is being handled as a domestic violence incident.

The 36-year-old state senate Democrat is expected to sponsor a proposed bill by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to make cheaper car insurance available to residents, according to a Detroit Free Press report published in April.

During this year’s legislative session, Smith has sponsored measures to make first-degree murder of a police officer punishable by death, extend hours for liquor sales and remove restrictions on gay marriage from state laws.

He is also the son of former Michigan state Sen. Virgil Smith Sr.

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May-05-2015 181 0
Eight days after becoming the 83rd U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch will visit Baltimore Tuesday in the aftermath of last week’s riots and six city police officers being charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Lynch, who was sworn in last Monday, plans to meet with city and law enforcement officials, Congress members and faith and community leaders. She will be joined by Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division; Ronald Davis, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services; and Grande Lum, director of the Community Relations Service, according to a Justice Department official.

The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Gray’s death. The Justice Department is also conducting a collaborative review of the police force in the wake of a Baltimore Sun investigation that found the city had paid nearly $6 million since 2011 to settle brutality claims against officers.

Lynch will visit the city as tension still lingers in the neighborhood where police arrested Gray last month. Angst grew on Monday when national media reported that police shot a black man in the street. The Baltimore police immediately refuted the report, saying that a man’s gun discharged when it hit the ground. Gathering crowds were met with dozens of police in riot gear.

City, state and federal officials continue to discuss recovery since crowds ignited buildings in some of the Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods. Gov. Larry Hogan activated the guard last Monday, the day of Gray's funeral, after crowds became violent. By Saturday, 3,000 Guardsmen were supporting police.

Before becoming the country’s top law enforcement official, Lynch served as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York since 2010.

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May-04-2015 225 0
Ben Carson wants to convince voters that a doctor is best positioned to fix what's ailing America.

"I'm Ben Carson, and I'm a candidate for president of the United States," he told a crowd in his hometown of Detroit on Monday, making his presidential bid official to wild applause.

In a speech to a crowd that his campaign estimated at thousands, the retired neurosurgeon and unlikely conservative star introduced his wife and family and called for "the people to rise up and take the government back." Carson told the story of his rise from poverty, where he lived in homes infested with roaches — "in the more upscale areas, they called 'em waterbugs, but we knew what they were" he joked — and promised that he wouldn't change his signature style, framing himself as an outsider up against the political elite.

"I'm probably never going to be politically correct because I'm not a politician," he said. "I don't want to be a politician. Because politicians do what is politically expedient — I want to do what's right."

Carson's theatrical announcement event included a gospel choir singing a medley topped by Eminem's "Lose Yourself," but the celebratory tone of the day was shrouded in private sadness for the candidate. His campaign confirmed earlier Monday that Carson's ailing mother was growing progressively sicker, and he planned to delay his planned trip to Iowa to head to Dallas on Monday to say goodbye.

But the notoriously sharp-tongued orator maintained his calm demeanor on stage Monday, taking sharp jabs at everything from the media to the Obama administration's policies. He called for an end to social programs that "create dependency," and, signaling he may seek to play in Capitol Hill battles, telling supporters that if their lawmaker voted to raise the debt limit, "you need to throw them out of office."

Carson demanded another "wave election" this cycle, not of Republicans (who already control both chambers of Congress), but rather to elect "people with common sense who actually love our nation, and are willing to work for our nation, and are more concerned about the next generation than the next election."

And he also weighed in on the recent unrest in Baltimore, following the death of an African American man in police custody, declaring that the "real issue is that people are losing hope" because the economy isn't delivering for them.

"They don't feel that life is going to be good for them, no matter what happens, so when an opportunity comes to loot, to riot, to get mine, they take it, not believing that there is a much better way to get the things that they desire," Carson said.

Carson is so far the only African-American presidential candidate from either party. He cuts an unusual figure for the GOP, but that's part of his appeal for conservatives.

He made his name in medicine by becoming the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins at the head, and was played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in a TNT adaptation of his memoir.

Carson grew up poor in Detroit and went on to get degrees from Yale and the University of Michigan, ultimately going on to become the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins by the age of 33. He's written six best-selling books, is a regular on the paid speaking circuit and was ranked the sixth most admired man in the world in a 2014 Gallup poll.

And he has been brazenly critical of President Barack Obama's policies — often to the point of getting himself in trouble with his borderline incendiary comments, including times he's compared Obamacare to slavery and the U.S. to Nazi Germany.

That unapologetic bluntness has made Carson a conservative star. He typically polls in the middle of the GOP presidential pack, ahead of second-timers like Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, and came in fourth at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference.

But it's also the thing that could halt his rise in its tracks. He faces strong skepticism from the GOP establishment over his penchant for controversial comments, which many Republicans worry could create headaches for the whole party and jeopardize their chances in the general election.

He told WKRC, however, that he's learned his lesson from those controversies.

"I don't wander off into those extraneous areas that can be exploited. I have learned that," he said.

Two years ago, however, it was Carson's signature brashness that brought him to national prominence and launched his rise as a conservative star.

Standing just feet from the president at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, Carson knocked Obama's policies, lamented the nation's decline and warned of the "moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility" confronting America.

The comments drew widespread plaudits from conservative commentators and, according to Carson, the ire of the White House. He refused to back down, and has struck a similarly aggressive tone in criticizing everything from gay marriage — which he's likened to beastiality — to Obamacare, which he's called "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery."

Carson did, however, recently apologize after telling CNN that being gay is a choice because people "go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay." In a subsequent Facebook post, Carson said that "my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues."

"I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive," Carson wrote.

But he rarely walks such comments back because, he says, he has no use for the "PC Police."

While critics may see Carson as unpolished, he and his advisers believe his plainspoken style contributes to his appeal as a political outsider up against a spate of Washington and Republican Party insiders.

That crusade against political correctness and the Washington establishment has helped him amass a strong grassroots conservative following that his advisers believe will help him lock down the funds he'll need to compete.

His campaign reportedly plans to raise $65 million between now and the Florida GOP primary, and another $65 million after that. Carson's presidential exploratory committee ended March with nearly $1.7 million cash on hand, after raising over $2.1 million in the first three months of the year.

But with his more prominent primary opponents planning to raise upwards of $100 million for their campaigns, Carson may struggle to break through the noise of an increasingly crowded Republican presidential primary.

Still, the appeal of an African American Republican presidential candidate for a party looking to widen its reach is undeniable.

Black voters traditionally back Democrats in presidential contests, but Republicans acknowledged following their surprising losses in 2012 that they'll need to do more to appeal to minority voters if they hope to compete nationally.

But Carson's ability to connect with African Americans may be hard to match. And though it's unlikely Republicans will make significant inroads with minorities this cycle, African Americans could help nudge a Republican candidate across the finish line in a tight primary, like South Carolina, or a tough general election swing state, like Michigan.

Monday's announcement events signal Carson will embrace his heritage and profile as an African American Republican.

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ERIC TUCKER Apr-27-2015 165 0
Loretta Lynch was sworn in Monday as the 83rd U.S. attorney general, the first African-American woman to serve as the nation's top law enforcement official.

Speaking before an audience of family members, Justice Department lawyers and supporters, Lynch said her confirmation as attorney general showed that "we can do anything" and pledged that the agency would "use justice as our compass" in confronting terrorism, cyberattacks and other threats facing the country.

"We can imbue our criminal justice system with both strength and fairness, for the protection of both the needs of victims and the rights of all. We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them," Lynch said, an apparent reference to ongoing efforts to repair relations between police departments and the minority communities that they serve.

Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to Lynch at a Justice Department ceremony, calling Lynch an "incredibly qualified" selection for the position. He said Lynch had shown grace during the months-long confirmation process, in which her nomination became caught up in Congress in a dispute over human trafficking legislation.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's about time — it's about time this woman is being sworn in," Biden said to applause.

The 55-year-old Lynch was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday. She replaces Eric Holder, who left the position Friday after serving as attorney general for six years.

Lynch met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday afternoon.

The two discussed the ongoing rioting in Baltimore, which came hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray — who died hours after suffering a severe spinal injury in Baltimore police custody. The Justice Department is investigating that death, and Lynch told the president that the agency would provide whatever help was needed.

She was previously the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which encompasses much of New York City, and is expected to serve as the top federal law enforcement official for the remainder of the Obama administration.

Lynch isn't expected to make radical departures from Holder's agenda, but has said she hopes to have a productive relationship with Congress. Holder frequently clashed with Republicans on Capitol Hill and was held in contempt during a document dispute stemming from the Fast and Furious federal investigation into gun trafficking.

She also inherits a Justice Department that has been at the center of a national debate about police use of force and the role race plays in law enforcement.

"Obviously, the president believes it's an important priority, and I think there is the expectation that she could do some important work in this area," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.

The Harvard-educated Lynch grew up in North Carolina during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the daughter of a retired teacher and a fourth-generation Baptist preacher who Biden said would take his child to the courthouse to observe important cases.

"I am here to tell you, if a little girl from North Carolina who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule, so she could see 'way up high, Granddaddy,' can become the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, then we can do anything," Lynch said.

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