From LA Mayor To India Ambassador? What To Know About Garcetti's Hearing
It finally happened: the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday heard from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and questioned him about his nomination to become the U.S. ambassador to India.
Garcetti delivered his opening statement to the committee. He was accompanied by his parents, who took him to India as a teenager. "They first brought me to India and taught me how deeply connected we are to everybody," he said Tuesday morning at the hearing.
He went on to say:
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade is expected to reach new heights and if confirmed, I intend to champion an ambitious economic partnership with India that reduces market access barriers and bolsters fair trade and creates good jobs for the American middle class
The committee, headed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), considered two other nominees simultaneously — University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann for Germany and career foreign service official Donald Armin Blome for Pakistan.
Why Has It Taken This Long To Get To The Hearing?
Garcetti got the nod back in July, but the process appeared to stall out in the fall, as confirmation for another high-profile nominee moved forward.
President Joe Biden's nominees for a range of key State Department posts have been slowed to a crawl by Senate Republicans. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have denounced the tactic as a political stunt that harms national security.
Some also wonder whether the delay was tied to a lawsuit from a former member of Garcetti’s security detail, LAPD Officer Matthew Garza, who accuses the mayor of enabling sexual harassment by a former top aide, Rick Jacobs.
Multiple former Garcetti staffers said under oath that Garcetti and his chief of staff, Ana Guerrero, knew about Jacobs’ behavior. Other staffers indicated in text conversations released during the discovery phase of the lawsuit that Jacobs’ sexually explicit remarks and harassing conduct were common knowledge in the office. Garcetti, Guerrero and other top staff have denied any knowledge of inappropriate conduct, and Jacobs has denied engaging in the behavior alleged in the lawsuit.
At Tuesday's hearing, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) said she has "read with some concern" about the allegations of sexual harassment against Jacobs and "that you did not respond to those allegations in a way that would have stopped that behavior."
I never witnessed nor was it brought to my attention the behavior that was alleged.
Former Garcetti communications aide Naomi Seligman has testified in a deposition and spoke for a New York magazine story about the harassment she allegedly received from Jacobs. She Tweeted during the Senate committee hearing:
.@SenatorShaheen What about the victims and our sworn testimony on the abuse we endured and that @ericgarcetti witnessed and enabled? We are greatly disappointed. Human rights matter, here and around the world. #metoo— Naomi Seligman (@naomiseligman) December 14, 2021
And then there was this Tweet from retired U.S. diplomat Alberto Miguel Fernandez:
Generally I think there are too many political appointees chosen as ambassadors (both parties do this). And Garcetti in particular has zero qualifications for what is a very important position. An embarrassing choice by Biden.— Alberto Miguel Fernandez (@AlbertoMiguelF5) December 14, 2021
The hearing was fairly short because only one Republican member was present. Menendez said several senators were attending other hearings and votes, but he said senators can submit questions for Garcetti to respond to in writing.
Once that process is completed, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will schedule a vote. If Garcetti's nomination is advanced, it will go to the full Senate for approval.
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