Just a few hours after being sworn in as the 83rd U.S. Attorney General by Vice President Joseph Biden, Loretta Lynch found herself in the Oval Office briefing President Obama on an outbreak of violence in Baltimore, as violence erupted after the funeral of an African American man who had died from injuries while in police custody.
“Attorney General Lynch assured the President that she would continue to monitor events in Baltimore and that the Department of Justice stands ready to provide any assistance that might be helpful there,” read a statement issued by the White House.
The meeting was not originally on the President’s schedule, and had seemingly been added only after marchers clashed with Baltimore city police.
White House officials excluded reporters and TV cameras from the meeting, only allowing still photographers to get a picture in the Oval Office; that prompted news media protests about limits on coverage of the President.
And as Garrett noted, there was no opportunity for reporters to get a comment from the President about violence which was taking place just about 40 miles up the road.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had been asked how important the issue of police violence would be for the new Attorney General.
Q It was poignant, perhaps, that this morning her swearing-in was taking place at the same time as the funeral for Freddie Gray in Baltimore. I’m wondering, does the President hope that Attorney General Lynch will take on the role as a point person for dealing specifically with this issue of tensions between law enforcement and our communities?
MR. EARNEST: Well, as the nation’s top law enforcement official and as someone whose nomination garnered strong support from both law enforcement and civil rights leaders across the country, I would imagine that she could play a pivotal role in trying to advance this kind of understanding that will have important benefits both for law enforcement, but also for the communities — for the people who live in the communities that those law enforcement officers serve.
So this is an interest of hers. 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.
The violence in Baltimore also had repercussions in other Democratic Party circles, as it is the home state of Martin O’Malley, the former Governor of Maryland who is thinking about running for President; he was also Mayor of Baltimore.
“I’m saddened that the city I love is in such pain tonight,” O’Malley said in a statement.