President Joe Biden reaffirmed at the commencement of the 118th Congress that sexual assault allegations are of little concern to him as he re-nominated his candidate for ambassador to India who is accused of being a sexual harassment “enabler.”
In July 2021, Biden nominated then-Mayor Eric Garcetti (D-Los Angeles) to fill the role of U.S. Ambassador to India, but by May 2022 his appointment had faltered because of a lawsuit brought against Rick Jacobs, his former chief of staff.
A lawsuit against Jacobs accusing him of unwanted sexual advances including kissing and touching a male LAPD officer, a male reporter, and others meant little to the White House as they touted the “well-qualified” Garcetti.
Tuesday during the White House press briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked, “What–just what has changed to think that this–the confirmation process will go a little more smoothly than it did last time.”
She replied citing Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s highlight of “our relationship with India [being] crucial and…consequential,” before stating, “so we see this as a very important nomination.”
“And as been–as you know–been reported, we’ll continue to seek the confirmation of Mayor Garcetti, who has–who was, as you all know, voted out of committee unanimously and with strong bipartisan support to serve as ambassador to India,” she contended. “And that’s important, as we’re talking about bipartisanship, as we’re talking how we’re going to move forward. And this is what you saw with his particular nomination.”
“So, we see this as he is well qualified–Mayor Garcetti–to serve in this vital role. And we’re hopeful that the full Senate will confirm him promptly,” Jean-Pierre concluded.
What she did not address was how Garcetti’s nomination out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2022 was put on hold in March by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) after it was alleged that the mayor knew and likely facilitated the harassment allegedly committed by Jacobs.
In December, the Iowa lawmaker stated of Jacobs, “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.”
Grassley’s investigation, which interviewed 15 witnesses and examined 26 depositions, concluded Garcetti “likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior advisor was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.”
“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,” the senator said.
The long-time congressman went on to contrast Biden’s decision to press on with the nomination with the president’s signing of the Speak Out Act meant to protect victims by prohibiting employers from entering into non-disclosure agreements prior to a dispute.
“Continuing to push this nominee after signing that bill into law is the very definition of tone deafness,” Grassley argued. “Unfortunately, the Biden administration is sending a message to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace that they’ll only be believed when politically convenient.”
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