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Loretta Lynch attorney general

On Wednesday, Loretta E. Lynch (pictured), the nominee to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, defended the legality of President Barack Obama’s immigration policy at the start of a confirmation hearing, where the new Republican-controlled

Senate Judiciary Committee pledged to ask tough questions, the New York Times writes.

RELATED: President Nominates Loretta Lynch For Attorney General

Republicans have criticized the President’s decision last year to ease the threat of deportation for millions of unauthorized immigrants. Holder approved the legal justification for the policy.

But some Republicans have said Lynch’s views on the subject will determine their votes, so Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the new Republican chairman of the committee, began the hearing with the a question about the issue, the Times reports:

Ms. Lynch said she had read the Justice Department’s legal opinions and added, “I don’t see any reason to doubt the reasonableness of those views.”

Ahead of the confirmation hearing, Lynch released a statement Wednesday vowing, among other things, to help ease tensions between law enforcement and some communities.

The pronouncement comes at a time when the nation is reeling from ongoing protests against police violence in the Black community. Lynch, 55, currently serves as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which is comprised of Brooklyn, N.Y. The city was rocked recently when a mentally ill man shot and killed two officers in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood allegedly out of revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner of Staten Island, N.Y., and Michael Brown, of Ferguson, Mo. — two Black men who died at the hands of White police officers.

“Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” she said in the prepared statement. “If confirmed as attorney general, one of my key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law enforcement personnel and all the communities we serve. In my career, I have seen this relationship flourish – I have seen law enforcement forge unbreakable bonds with community residents and have seen violence-ravaged communities come together to honor officers who risked all to protect them.  As attorney general, I will draw all voices into this important discussion.”

Lynch’s wide-ranging statement also addressed crime and abuse, cybercrime, and terrorism. She said her office has tried more terrorism cases than any other office in the nation. If confirmed after the two-day Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, she would become the first African-American woman nominated as attorney general.

“We have investigated and prosecuted terrorist individuals and groups that threaten our nation and its people—including those who have plotted to attack New York city’s subway system, JFK airport, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and U.S. troops stationed abroad, as well as those who have provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations,” she writes.

She also pledged to work with both sides of the aisle to promote bipartisanship:

“I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the United States Senate, and the entire United States Congress—a relationship based on mutual respect and Constitutional balance,” she said. “Ultimately, I know we all share the same goal and commitment: to protect and serve the American people.”

She was accompanied to the hearing by her husband, Stephen Hargrove; her father, the Rev. Lorenzo Lynch; her brother, the Rev. Leonzo Lynch, and his wife, NiCole, as well as several other family members. Her mother, Lorine, who was unable to travel, is a retired English teacher and librarian. She also paid tribute to her family in the statement.

“I owe much to those who have worked to make its promise real for all Americans, beginning with my own family,” she writes. “All of them—and so many others—have supported me on the path that has brought me to this moment, not only through their unwavering love and support, but through their shining examples, and the values that shaped my upbringing.”

RELATED: Brooklyn Prosecutor Loretta Lynch Eyed For Attorney General Post

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