Republican senators grant Joe Biden a victory by confirming his controversial envoy to India
On Wednesday, former L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti won confirmation in the Senate as U.S. envoy to India by a vote of 52-42. The confirmation took twenty long months.
Garcetti is a close ally of Joe Biden and even co-chaired his 2020 presidential campaign, yet his appointment was held up following accusations that he ignored serious accusations of homosexual sexual harassment against his friend and adviser, Rick Jacobs, when he was LA mayor.
Garcetti, repeatedly and vehemently denied the allegations, while Jacobs branded the accusations against him "pure fiction."
Last May, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released a report that cited "numerous credible allegations from multiple whistle-blowers," which concluded that Garcetti "likely knew or should have known" about Jacobs sexually harassing city employees.
According to New York Magazine, four people who worked with both Garcetti and Jacobs claimed that the mayor was aware of Jacobs's behavior.
Naomi Seligman, Garcetti's former communications director in the L.A. mayor's office, said on Monday that Garcetti turned a blind eye to sexual harassment, and hence he "is unfit to become an ambassador or really to hold public office anywhere in this country or this world."
There was photo evidence as well.
In November 2020, the L.A. Times published a group photo that shows Jacobs placing his hand over a man's crotch while Garcetti is smiling with a thumbs-up sign, separated by one person. It is impossible that Garcetti didn't notice this.
1. This photo was obtained by the LA Times...— Yashar Ali 🐘 یاشار (@yashar) March 8, 2023
Here you have now former LA Mayor Eric Garcetti who is Biden's nominee for Ambassador to India.
On the far left is Rick Jacobs his deputy chief of staff.
Rick has placed his hand, without consent, over the crotch of a man. pic.twitter.com/dtURMEuccc
Journalist Yashar Ali also accused Jacobs of unwanted advances and claimed that other victims were harassed in front of Garcetti, but he didn't act against his confidant.
Garcetti's confirmation took so long that his nomination expired in January 2023. Biden immediately renominated Garcetti when he could have picked another more suitable individual on moral grounds.
Biden, like most Democrats, placed personal friendship over propriety.
There were many surprises during Garcetti's confirmation vote.
Democrats such as Mark Kelly of Arizona, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii broke party discipline to vote against him.
Surprisingly or perhaps unsurprisingly, seven Republican senators voted to confirm Garcetti's appointment.
The names of these senators are
- Bill Cassidy of Louisiana,
- Roger Marshall of Kansas,
- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,
- Steve Daines of Montana,
- Bill Hagerty of Tennessee,
- Todd Young of Indiana, and
- Susan Collins of Maine.
This more than compensated for the Democrat breakaways and gave Biden a victory.
The allegations that Garcetti overlooked sexual harassment of his subordinates by an ally raise serious concerns.
It shows a lack of empathy toward the suffering of another human being. It is considerably worse if an individual looking the other way is in a position of power and the victims are subordinates.
In such situations, people of character don't even hesitate to confront their superiors to protect the vulnerable.
It is true that self-serving politicians have no empathy toward those lower than them on the hierarchical ladder. But this display is too blatant to be ignored.
In a strange way, those who voted to confirm Garcetti may have done exactly what Garcetti was accused of doing: ignoring serious misconduct.
This also displays Garcetti's "club" mentality — where insiders and cronies suffer no consequences for unspeakable acts of cruelty while outsiders are severely punished for lesser offenses.
How can such an individual be trusted to lead an embassy in an important ally of the U.S. government 12,000 kilometers away from D.C., in New Delhi, India?
Will Garcetti confront corruption and wrongdoing by others at the U.S. Embassy in Delhi, or will he join the club?
There are other concerns as well.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Garcetti previously served on the board of directors for an affiliate of the Asia Society, a nonprofit group with links to Chinese companies and organizations that have pushed Beijing-backed propaganda.
According to a Daily Caller investigation, "a mayoral fund set up by Garcetti nearly a decade ago received well over $1 million in donations during Garcetti's tenure from two wealthy individuals tied to alleged CCP influence and intelligence fronts."
India shares a border with China, and there are frequent reports of Chinese incursion over the Indo-Chinese border.
How can Garcetti be trusted to be tough on China?
What Garcetti said during his confirmation also should have been disqualifying.
Senator Cardin (D-Md.) cited a Freedom House report categorizing India as Partly Free in 2023 to make claims of human rights being violated in India.
Freedom House is the same organization that claimed that "Trump and Allies Tried to Subvert Democratic Elections on January 6th and that accountability was needed," so clearly, its claims do not need to be taken seriously.
Cardin added that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enacted in India targeted India's Muslim population and asked Garcetti how he planned to handle it.
One of a key requirement for selection of Next US Ambassador to India was How will the next Ambassador handle India's discrimination of its muslim population and human rights issues— Megh Updates 🚨™ (@MeghUpdates) March 14, 2023
Listen to incoming US amb. Eric Garcetti's reply on this during senate confirmation hearing. pic.twitter.com/INubiwjoT2
The CAA allows the fast-tracking of Indian citizenship for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc. from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Far-left "human rights" groups claimed that this was discriminatory against Indian Muslims, and the NYT and WaPo amplified these lies. There were violent demonstrations across India, which the NYT called protests. The violence continued during President Trump's visit to India in 2019.
The CAA has no relation to existing Indian citizens; it merely allows the fast-tracking of citizenship for persecuted non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations.
Muslims are not included in these groups because they are a majority in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and hence have no reason to flee.
For rarely persecuted Muslims fleeing Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, there are other ways to seek asylum and citizenship later.
Anybody such as Garcetti who intends to become U.S. envoy to India should have known these elementary facts and should have corrected Cardin's false claim.
But instead, he not only accepted the premise, but made some troubling pledges.
Garcetti said, "There are groups that are actively fighting for the human rights of people on the ground in India that will get direct engagement from me."
Most of these are far-left groups with links to political parties in India. Did Garcetti realize that his engagement could be seen as interference in India's internal politics and national elections, to be held in May 2024?
This is the equivalent of an India envoy being asked about "systemic racism" in the U.S. during the tenure of a Republican president and the envoy pledging to engage with "civil rights groups" in the U.S. a year prior to a presidential election.
Back to the confirmation.
The current group of Democrats wants to outlaw political opposition and are even targeting citizens for protests. There is no reason to support these Democrats.
Garcetti's alleged conduct as L.A. mayor and his support of spurious narratives against India, where he is going to be based, make him unworthy of confirmation. In the U.K., Boris Johnson was forced to resign for similar conduct.
It was so bad that even Garcetti's fellow Democrats rejected him. But thanks to GOP senators, Garcetti, and Biden secures a victory from the jaw of certain defeat.
These GOP senators have once again proven to be unreliable, and unworthy allies to their voters which is often worse than a sworn enemies.
Photo credits: Twitter video screen grab and screen grab.