With Loretta Lynch poised to be confirmed as Attorney General, the challenges facing her are daunting, says Politico. “She'll have her hands full,” said Ron Weich, Attorney General Eric Holder's former liaison to Congress, now dean of the University of Baltimore Law School. “DOJ years are longer than regular years and are chock full of agonizing challenges that affect lots of people.” Politico names five serious issues Lynch must deal with. A vast swath of illegal activity now takes place over the Internet, and many FBI agents and other federal law enforcers are still from a generation where solving crime rarely involved mirroring a suspect's hard drive or sifting through the contents of a smartphone. The Justice Department is facing major budget stress, with much of it traceable to a single source: the federal prison system. Significant population drops are likely to require changes in federal laws on mandatory minimum sentences, but it’s far from clear whether a Congress now under GOP control in both houses will view reform as a priority.
Lynch will have the duty to carry on the “sustained conversation” President Obama has promised on the issue of police relations with minorities. The legal status of National Security Agency surveillance remains in doubt as Congress faces a June deadline to renew the law used to justify the collection of information on U.S. telephone calls. Obama has called for the program to be restructured; Lynch was more tentative this week, saying she was open to changes “if any changes need to be made.” Lynch's hearing before the Senate made clear she has a significant opportunity to improve the Justice Department's relationship with Congress. Given that Holder was the first Cabinet officer held in contempt by the House, a more positive interaction shouldn't be terribly hard to muster. If Lynch can turn over a new leaf with Congress, the benefits for Obama could be dramatic, Politico says. Congress remains the key obstacle to his plan to close Guantanamo by moving prisoners to a facility in the U.S.