As I look out over all of you gathered here today, my overwhelming reaction is one of profound gratitude. I must, of course, thank the President for his faith in me in asking me to lead the department that I love to even greater heights.
Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for your presence and your comments here today, and for your steadfast support and wise counsel throughout the process. I also must thank Senators Schumer and Leahy for their support, over the years and now, and for making the floor of the U.S. Senate a welcoming place for me and my family. And of course, my wonderful family. As you can see, we’re quite a force multiplier!
Many of you have come to know my father through this process. He has been at every hearing and every vote. But he didn’t just start now. I remember looking up as a young Assistant U.S. Attorney starting my first trial and seeing him there – and he came to every one thereafter. He has encouraged me in all things, even when my choices were not the ones he would have made for me. In that, he has been the best of fathers. Without him, I would not be here today, being sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, just one week after his 83rd birthday.
And my mother, who could not be here today but is never far from my thoughts or my heart. She grew up in a world where she was always told what she could not do or could not be, but always knew in her heart that she could soar. She did what would have seemed impossible in the small North Carolina town of her youth. She raised a daughter whom she always told, whatever the dream, whether lawyer, prosecutor or even Attorney General, “of course you can.”
I must also thank my wonderful husband, who has supported all of my choices and my dreams. I would not trade his love and support for all the riches in the world – because to me, they are all the riches in the world.
Thanks also go to my colleagues and friends here in the department, in the Eastern District of New York, and beyond. But even more than that, tremendous thanks go to the literally thousands of people, many of whom I have never met, who have expressed their support throughout the process. From the sisterhood of my sorority and all the Greeks who came together, to churches and schools and people on the street who have stopped me and said just a word or two – please know that those few words sometimes made all the difference in the world to me as I traveled this road.
I thank you all, as I prepare to join once again with the outstanding people of the Department of Justice. I have been privileged to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you twice before from the Eastern District of New York. You are the ones who make real the promise of justice and redress for all Americans. I am honored beyond words to step into the larger role today as your Attorney General, as we continue the core work of our mission – the protection of the American people.
All of the people here at the department are here because at some point in our lives, we all said, “I want to be a lawyer.” “I want to be a law enforcement officer.” “I want to be a federal agent.” “I want to be someone’s hero.”
At the heart of that – for me and for all of us – whether attorney or agent, staff or principal – is the desire to leave this world a better place for us having been a part of it.
The challenge in that – for you, for me, for all of us that love this department and love the law – is to use the law to that end. To not just represent the law and enforce it, but use it to make real the promise of America, the promise of fairness and equality, “of liberty and justice for all.” We are all just here for a time – whether in this building or even on this earth. But the values we hold dear will live on long after we have left this stage. Our responsibility, while we are here, is to breathe life into them; to imbue them with the strength of our convictions and the weight of our efforts.
I know this can be done.
Because I am here to tell you, if a little girl from North Carolina who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule, so she could see “way up high, Granddaddy,” can become the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, then we can do anything.
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. We can protect the most vulnerable among us from the scourge of modern-day slavery – so antithetical to the values forged in blood in this country. We can protect the growing cyber world. We can give those in our care both protection from terrorism and the security of their civil liberties. We will do this as we have accomplished all things both great and small – working together, moving forward, and using justice as our compass.
I cannot wait to begin that journey.
Thank you all for being here, both today and in my life.