WASHINGTON, D.C. (CN) – Crowds cheered Monday afternoon as Vice President Joe Biden swore in Loretta Lynch as the first black woman to serve as U.S. attorney general.
What was intended to be an intimate swearing-in ceremony developed into a standing-room-only event, filling both the Attorney General’s conference room and the adjacent office with Lynch’s family members, supporters, politicians, Department of Justice officials and press.
Those who could not fit into the conference room peered through open double doors crowded with people to see Lynch become the 83rd attorney general.
With five months having passed since President Barack Obama nominated her, Biden spoke to the grace and humility Lynch showed as she waited for the Senate to confirm her nomination.
The confirmation finally occurred Thursday, when a 56-43 vote cleared Lynch to take office.
“It’s about time this woman is being sworn in,” Biden said.
Biden said he has every confidence that Lynch, who goes to Washington from the Eastern District of New York where she led several high-profile terrorism trials, will exceed even the highest of expectations.
“She has never been limited by the lower expectations of others, but has always exceeded the high expectations she set for herself,” Biden said.
The vice president praised Lynch’s father, Lorenzo Lynch, for his impact in teaching Lynch that anything was possible, and to stand up for what is right.
Lorenzo Lynch watched from his front-row seat as his daughter took her oath of office and then took to the podium to tell the crowd that her heart was “full.”
She thanked the crowd for their support, and also talked about how her father and loving family got her to where she is. Her father has been at every hearing and vote throughout her confirmation process, she said, and he went to all her trials while she served twice as U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.
Her husband has also supported all of her dreams, she said.
Lynch said she greatly looks forward to serving as the highest law-enforcement officer in the country.
In her new position, Lynch said the challenge for herself and for all others in the Department of Justice and who serve in law enforcement, is to “to not just represent the law and enforce it, but use it to make real the promise of America, the promise of fairness and equality, ‘of liberty and justice for all.'”
“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.
Lynch, 55, succeeds Eric Holder Jr., who announced his resignation in September 2014 but stayed in office until a successor was decided.
Lynch is the first black woman to hold the position and the second black individual, after Holder, and the second woman, after Janet Reno. She previously served as a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 1999 to 2001, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and then was reappointed to that position by Obama in 2010.
Additional reporting by Nick Divito…
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