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Seven Republicans join Democrats to confirm scandal ridden Biden nominee

By Sarah May
|
March 16, 2023

By a vote of 52-42, former mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti (D) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Wednesday to serve as ambassador to India after his nomination had stalled due to a sexual harassment scandal in which he was embroiled, as Fox News reports.

A total of seven Republicans voted in support of Garcetti, while three Democrats stood in opposition to his confirmation. Six lawmakers in the upper chamber did not vote on the matter.

Garcetti confirmed

As the Daily Wire notes, the Republicans who voted in favor of Garcetti's confirmation were Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Steve Daines (MT), Susan Collins (ME), Bill Hagerty (TN), Lindsey Graham (SC), Roger Marshal (KS), and Todd Young (IN).

The Democrats who voted against confirmation were Sens. Mark Kelly (AZ), Mazie Hirono (HI), and Sherrod Brown (OH).

Reacting to his confirmation, Garcetti issued a statement saying, “I'm thrilled with today's outcome, which was a decisive and bipartisan decision to fill a critical post that has been vacant for far too long. Now the hard work begins.”

“I'm deeply grateful to President Biden and the White House for the confidence and support throughout this process, and to all senators on both sides of the aisle – whether they voted for me or not – for their thoughtful consideration,” Garcetti added.

Allegations delay decision

Garcetti's nomination was first put forward by President Joe Biden all the way back in July of 2021, but details of a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought against his former top aide had long threatened to derail further progress.

The legal action at issue was initiated by a Los Angeles police officer who claims that he was groped and subjected to crude, sexually charged comments and jokes by former high-ranking Garcetti advisor Rick Jacobs.

The officer further alleges that Garcetti was fully aware of the conduct directed toward him and a number of others by Jacobs, but took no action in response, though the former mayor has claimed that he only became aware of the accusations when the lawsuit was filed.

While Garcetti's nomination continued to languish in the Senate, a series of temporary envoys assumed the duties that would normally be under the purview of the permanent ambassador, and filling the post was viewed by many lawmakers as a critical priority that needed to move forward, even in light of lingering concerns about the aforementioned allegations.

Troubling revelations emerge

After the sexual misconduct claims against Jacobs went public, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) launched a probe into the situation. The resulting review encompassed 15 witness interviews, 26 depositions, as well as text message and emails related to the matter, as Fox News noted separately.

In the end, the staff involved in the investigation determined that Garcetti “likely knew or should have known, that his former senior advisor was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.”

Grassley himself weighed in on the findings, saying, “Nobody is that brazen to engage in this type of outrageous behavior against other people unless they know that they have a powerful enabler protecting them. Based on the facts and the evidence, that enabler is Mayor Eric Garcetti.”

The senator's damning conclusions continued, “Despite attempts by Mayor Garcetti and the Biden administration to frame complaints against him as a political hit job, some of the individuals who've come forward and shed light on the misconduct are from Mayor Garcetti's own staff.”

Reactions mixed

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson told the Los Angeles Times that the vote to confirm Garcetti likely had less to do with assessing the credibility of the Jacobs case than with the sense of urgency felt by the Senate to fill the long-empty ambassador role.

That take seemed to be supported by Hagerty, who said, “For more than two years, the Biden administration and Senate Democrats have failed to get a Senate-confirmed ambassador to India – the world's largest democracy, a rising economic power, and one of our most important strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific. As a former U.S. ambassador to Japan, I know firsthand that this is a critical U.S. diplomatic position.”

Less convinced of the need to green-light the nominee, however, was Libby Liu, CEO of Whistleblower Aid, who said, as Fox News noted, “Today's confirmation flies in the face of what 19 courageous whistleblowers, victims and witnesses came forward to bear witness to the Senate: that Eric Garcetti enabled, tolerated and covered up years of sexual abuse [from] his top aide at Los Angeles City Hall.”

“This appalling behavior from an elected public leader should be disqualifying for any official position,” Liu added. “This will have a chilling effect on future attempts to hold enablers and perpetrators to account and cause victims and witnesses to think twice about the risks they are taking in coming forward.”