Eric Garcetti skips past scandal on a glidepath to New Delhi

Throughout Biden’s transition, and within the months that adopted, there was angst over how carefully to embrace the mayor, with some fearing that he might turn into a distraction. Garcetti finally secured an envoy nomination.

And for all these setbacks, Garcetti on Tuesday took one other step towards touchdown one of many extra consequential diplomatic posts: The ambassadorship in India. His sparsely attended, seemingly pro-forma listening to earlier than the Senate Overseas Relations Committee produced no fireworks. It was the newest indication that the job is his (a formal committee vote is anticipated quickly) and it’ll quickly set off a scramble over who will get the interim gig to run America’s second-largest metropolis.

Garcetti’s drama-free listening to underscored simply how a lot Democrats are keen to stand by President Joe Biden on his nominations, even amid the tough political winds round allegations of office misconduct. In addition they illustrate the diploma to which loyalty continues to be probably the most priceless currencies for Biden, too. Garcetti didn’t simply sidestep a presidential run of his personal in 2020, he endorsed the president’s nomination at a low level within the major, earlier than going on to serve in high-profile roles, together with co-chair of the Biden marketing campaign, vice presidential choice committee and inaugural committee.

Inside Los Angeles Metropolis Corridor, officers have been satisfied that the sexual harassment allegations towards former Garcetti adviser Rick Jacobs would finally snarl Garcetti’s ambassadorship bid, significantly after a current New York Magazine story concluded that the mayor knew concerning the complaints lengthy earlier than they have been made public. However Garcetti has insisted, together with below oath and once more on the listening to on Tuesday, that he had no data of any abuse, and that he wouldn’t have tolerated it if he had.

Few of the senators in attendance have been inclined to press him on it.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) was the one member of the panel to ask concerning the allegations which have shadowed Garcetti since Matthew Garza, a Los Angeles Police Division officer who spent years serving within the mayor’s safety element, filed a lawsuit final 12 months alleging Garcetti witnessed the conduct and didn’t step in. There have been no follow-ups from Shaheen, or the others.

Garza’s submitting towards the town in July 2020 contained allegations of crude and undesirable sexual feedback and touching by Jacobs that he contended went on for years. It additional alleged that at occasions Garcetti laughed at Jacobs’ crude feedback. The go well with was amplified three months later by Yashar Ali, the freelance author and one-time political operative, who published a piece through which he reported a first-hand account about how Jacobs forcibly kissed and hugged him — in addition to others. The story, Ali stated, sparked speedy blowback.

“Regardless of repeated makes an attempt by Mayor Garcetti and his supporters to disparage me,” Ali informed POLITICO, “my reporting has been confirmed by a number of information organizations and by a number of witnesses of their depositions, given below oath, within the Garza lawsuit.”

Shortly after Ali’s preliminary story, The Los Angeles Times reported on two different accusers of Jacobs. The Instances additionally surfaced a photograph of Jacobs, who has repeatedly denied harassing anybody, making a provocative gesture towards one other man — with Garcetti pictured among the many group. And within the New York Journal article, revealed earlier this month, former Garcetti communications director Naomi Seligman detailed alleged abuse by Jacobs, elements of which have been in deposition testimony she gave over the summer time within the Garza go well with.

Garcetti, for his half, has stated all through that he was unaware of his high aide’s conduct. His prospects for a high Biden submit (initially Transportation secretary, then home local weather czar or secretary of the Navy) dampened as extra details about Jacobs emerged. In July, the president introduced that he was nominating the mayor for ambassador to India, and a White Home official reiterated on the time what Garcetti had stated about his lack of know-how about Jacobs prior to the lawsuit.

Garcetti’s Los Angeles metropolis spokesperson stated the mayor’s reply in his testimony Tuesday spoke for itself. Chris Meagher, a White Home spokesperson, stated Tuesday, “The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he’ll be a wonderful consultant in India.”

As soon as nominated, Garcetti has confronted comparatively few hiccups. Seligman, in an interview, described the dearth of scrutiny from U.S. senators on Jacobs’ allegations to be “profoundly irritating” and “very disappointing.” However she stated she had no preconceived notions of how politically impactful her claims towards Jacobs could be.

“Did I do know that sitting senators don’t desire to embarrass President Biden? Sure, I knew that,” she stated. “Did I hope somebody could be extra courageous than that? Yeah.”

Jacobs didn’t return a request for remark.

Seligman added that her legal professional had provided to talk about the problem with the senators, and that employees on each side of the aisle spoke with the lawyer. “These points take a lot of sound judgment and [Garcetti] has proven that he does not have sound judgment. And that wasn’t explored.”

No matter detailed info employees bought from their talks with Seligman’s consultant didn’t make it into the course of Tuesday’s public listening to.

Garcetti was launched by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), who known as the mayor’s credentials “spectacular,” and stated he’d led the town by way of a variety of challenges whereas leveraging his place to exert affect over nationwide and worldwide organizations.

“Everyone knows India is located in a robust neighborhood,” Garcetti informed the committee, including that, if confirmed, he would lengthen efforts to strengthen India’s capability to safe its border, defend its sovereignty, counter terrorism and deter aggression.

Garcetti stated he’d visited India in 1990 and began learning Hindi and Urdu in faculty, together with Indian and cultural spiritual historical past, and pointed to the significance of human rights, commerce and dealing alongside India to confront local weather change.

Except for the Jacobs scandal, Garcetti’s choice to the submit turned some heads for a way little involvement he has had with the nation the place he’s being dispatched. One shut India observer provided that the large hope now amongst some diplomats is that Garcetti has Biden’s ear on delicate and well timed subjects and should have the option to keep away from the chain of command that a profession diplomat may face in getting to the president. However, the individual added, talking anonymously to keep away from doable conflicts, “hope” will not be the identical as coverage.

“Folks have been a bit bewildered by the nomination as a result of nobody had heard of Eric Garcetti,” stated Seema Sirohi, an Indian columnist for The Financial Instances who is predicated in Washington and has lined India-U.S. relations for 3 many years. “At a time when China is meant to be America’s massive rival, and India a massive supply of energy, the Biden administration wanted a candidate with sturdy overseas coverage chops.”

For Garcetti, an early exit from Los Angeles would come at an uneasy time. When he first declined to run for president in 2019, vowing to as an alternative handle unfinished enterprise, the town confronted a surge in homelessness. That’s solely grown worse since that point, including to the challenges of the pandemic together with rising crime, from robberies to homicides.

Michael Trujillo, a Democratic strategist in Los Angeles who has been essential of Garcetti within the past and labored for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, famous that for all of the troubles at dwelling, Garcetti discovered a manner out and into big-league worldwide affairs, one thing most ex-mayors had not been in a position to do.

“He’s cracked the code for L.A. mayors,” Trujillo stated.

With the nomination transferring, there’s appreciable jockeying for Garcetti’s job, albeit in an interim capability earlier than the subsequent election for a four-year time period takes place subsequent 12 months. The town council president, Nury Martinez, might step in. One other metropolis councilmember, Paul Krekorian, is alleged to have the votes of his colleagues, two officers stated, although it’s unclear if he desires to abandon his seat. Each situations would assist metropolis taxpayers keep away from a expensive election.

And Villaraigosa, who served as mayor from 2005 to 2013 and is barred from one other full time period, has been making calls and indicated he’s within the appointment, although provided that it occurs quickly and he has sufficient time to maneuver within the job.

“It might probably’t be for six months,” he stated on Tuesday, contending that too brief a time in workplace would create difficulties in placing the town on its finest footing.

Others aren’t excited for him to return, no matter how lengthy. A high-ranking supply at Metropolis Corridor likened Villaraigosa’s doable reemergence to that of an growing older boxer “who has been beat up so many occasions that they provided him a job as a greeter within the on line casino foyer.”

Villaraigosa, who had issued his warning that “Rome is burning” on a current native TV program, declined to reply.

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