CNN: Obama to nominate Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Holder as Attorney General

The most interesting thing about her at first blush is how safe a pick she seems, a surprise move from a guy who’s threatening to lob an amnesty grenade at the new GOP Senate and who insisted the day after an opposition landslide that he has a mandate from all the people who didn’t vote on Tuesday.

Why is O suddenly in the mood to play nice-ish, to the point where he’d bring an outsider into his very insular inner circle?

Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, is expected to be President Barack Obama’s pick for Attorney General, U.S. officials briefed on the matter told CNN…

Lynch is a popular prosecutor who is in her second stint as US Attorney in New York’s eastern district, appointed by President Obama in 2010 and also serving in the same post from 1999-2001 under President Bill Clinton…

Lynch has quietly built a solid reputation in New York, where Preet Bharara, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, garners magazine covers and regular media attention for Wall Street prosecutions.

Her 2010 nomination won Senate approval on a voice vote, meaning Republicans didn’t view her as controversial. In recent months, however, she has led the prosecution of Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from Staten Island, for alleged tax fraud. Grimm won reelection this week despite being under indictment, and has called the case against him politically motivated. Current Attorney General Eric Holder announced his plans in Septemnber to step down.

Obama could have played to lefties by nominating Bharara and introducing him as Wall Street’s worst nightmare. He could have nominated Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the man who won the ObamaCare case in front of the Supreme Court. He could have nominated Holder deputy turned Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, guaranteeing all-out war with the GOP. If he was dead set on nominating a woman, he could have picked lefty star and current California AG Kamala Harris — although Harris, eyeing higher office in California, insisted she wanted to stay put when her name was floated. In the end he went with Lynch, about whom the media has little to say today except that she’s respected, that she prosecuted the NYPD cops involved in the Abner Louima case years ago, and that she’s now in charge of prosecuting GOP Rep. Michael Grimm (who was just reelected two days ago) on fraud and tax evasion charges. Maybe that’s O’s angle here, daring Senate Republicans at Lynch’s confirmation hearing to go to bat for a guy who’s under a cloud of suspicion at a moment when they’re offering themselves as a good-government alternative to Obama’s corrupt, incompetent White House.

The timing here is weird, though, no? Democrats were desperate to get black voters and women to turn out for them on Tuesday, so here’s Obama ready to nominate the first black woman Attorney General in U.S. history and … he saves the announcement for after the election. Even odder, Lynch is a North Carolina native; some free press about that a week or two before the big vote might have helped Kay Hagan in a tight race. Not sure why O held the nomination until now, unless the White House concluded that a black woman AG would only further antagonize an electorate that was sure to be older and whiter than 2012. If that was their calculation, though, it was stupid: Nearly anyone would be considered an upgrade over Holder by righties, especially someone like Lynch with few obvious red flags on her record. It could have helped with his base (a little) and wouldn’t have hurt with a wider electorate that was already prepared to bury Democrats.

Oh well. Prepare for a pantsload of Internet smart takes about racism and sexism sometime soon, after some Republican on the Judiciary Committee dares to be critical of Lynch at her Senate hearing before the chamber confirms her 80/20 anyway.