Loretta Lynch was sworn in yesterday as the 83rd U.S. attorney general, the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official, the Associated Press reports. Speaking before an audience of family members, Justice Department lawyers and supporters, Lynch said her confirmation showed that “we can do anything” and pledged that the agency would “use justice as our compass” in confronting terrorism, cyberattacks and other threats facing the country. “We can imbue our criminal justice system with both strength and fairness, for the protection of both the needs of victims and the rights of all. We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them,” Lynch said, an apparent reference to ongoing efforts to repair relations between police departments and the minority communities that they serve.
Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to Lynch at a Justice Department ceremony, calling Lynch an “incredibly qualified” selection for the position. Lynch met with President Barack Obama at the White House yesterday afternoon, discussing the ongoing rioting in Baltimore, which came hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died days after he suffered a severe spinal injury while in Baltimore police custody. The Justice Department is investigating the death, and Lynch told the president that the agency would provide whatever help was needed. Lynch issued a statement condemning the violence in Baltimore as a disservice to Gray’s family and peaceful protesters. She said she would dispatch many Justice Department officials, including Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s civil rights division, to Baltimore.