Attorney general nominee can expect tough questions

Lynch nominated for U.S. attorney general
Lynch nominated for U.S. attorney general

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    Lynch nominated for U.S. attorney general

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Lynch nominated for U.S. attorney general 01:23

Story highlights

  • Loretta Lynch has been nominated as the next U.S. attorney general
  • Chuck Grassley: Justice Department must be accountable to the people

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, is the senior senator from Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicks off the confirmation hearing for Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Eric Holder as attorney general.

The attorney general -- our nation's chief federal law enforcement officer -- plays a vital role ensuring laws and regulations are faithfully executed, while respecting and defending the rights of American citizens as well as the duties of each independent branch of government. Unfortunately, for the past several years, leadership at the department has often lost sight of this mission. Instead, it has engaged in a sort of constitutional gymnastics, contorting the intent of the enumerated powers to provide the President practically carte blanche authority for some of his more extraordinary executive actions.
Sen. Chuck Grassley
The Justice Department's lack of responsiveness to congressional inquiries on anything from "Fast and Furious" to the President's executive action on immigration has been a constitutional slap in the face to the American people. The Justice Department, like any other federal agency, must be accountable to the people. This requires transparency and cooperation with Congress.
    A renewed commitment to transparency and accountability at the Justice Department will depend largely on the actions of its next leader. The tone set by a new attorney general could be a turning point in the relationship between the department and Congress.
    As chairman, I intend to hold a fair and thorough hearing to carefully evaluate Lynch's qualifications and perspectives. While she has been confirmed twice as a U.S. attorney, she's never had a nomination hearing before the committee. Leading the Justice Department is a whole different ballgame, one with serious implications for a number of important national policy areas going forward. She'll be asked tough questions from all members of the committee, and her responses will provide valuable insight into what sort of attorney general she may be. This is Lynch's opportunity to make her case.
    The hearing is scheduled to last at least two days. On Wednesday, senators will be able to ask Lynch about her experience and her views of how the Justice Department should operate. The second day will be dedicated to testimony from witnesses selected by senators on both sides of the aisle. My philosophy as chairman is to provide members of the committee as much time as they need to question the nominee adequately, in a live setting.
    Vetting Lynch began weeks ago, shortly after her nomination. My office has been working to collect the necessary materials needed for a comprehensive review of Lynch's background. I appreciate that the Justice Department has been largely accommodating in the committee's requests for documents throughout this process.
    This week, as the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent, the American people will have the opportunity to learn how Lynch intends to lead the department, if she is confirmed.
    The country faces difficult challenges that the attorney general must meet head-on. It will take someone who has the right qualifications and experience to fill the job. I look forward to hearing Lynch's responses to our questions and evaluating her credentials for this important post.