President Joe Biden’s decision to endorse his nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to India is facing fresh scrutiny as former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination re-leads in the Senate
The controversial nomination has revived criticism of the president’s decision to reward political allies with top diplomatic posts.
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Garcetti, a presidential prospect, was a prominent stand-in for Biden throughout the 2020 race, serving as the national co-chairman of the Biden ticket and co-chairman of the vice presidential nominating committee before the president nominated him to be ambassador to the ‘India. more than 19 months ago.
“Biden has always been someone who values loyalty, and I think he sees Eric as a political ally who went to the mats for him at critical moments in the campaign,” said Brett Bruen, a former Secret Service officer. Foreign and member of the Obama. National Security Council of the administration. “But this reinforces why the calculation for appointing someone [ambassador] it shouldn’t be “what did you do for me during the campaign”. It should be “what will you do for our country”. This is clearly not what drives the decision to leave an embassy without leadership for more than two years.”
Bruen called Biden’s decision to reward political allies with top diplomatic posts “shameful,” and charged that the president’s favors to donors and other backers were harming American interests.
“This is frankly the most shameful example of how Biden has prioritized politics over US national security interests,” he said.
The discovery of classified documents at Biden’s Washington think tank has renewed attention on his ambassador to Germany, former University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, who led the development of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement where found files. Federal records show the university accepted more than $100 million in contributions from Chinese entities, the Saudi Defense Ministry and others under his leadership, donations that increased after Biden left office and went incorporate into the university as it sought to expand its footprint overseas.
“They come with a lot of baggage, which is not conducive to diplomacy,” Bruen added. “Garcetti, in the interest of our diplomacy and certainly during a very fragile time in the Indo-Pacific region, has to recognize that this is bigger than his own ambition.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up Garcetti’s nomination again on Tuesday after he failed to get enough votes in the Senate during the last Congress. Biden in January renominated Garcetti even as senators refused to commit to confirming the two-time Democratic former mayor amid allegations that he knew a top aide was sexually harassing subordinates. Several Democrats were among the resisters.
Now, Republicans are poised to press the issue, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the committee, stalling the nomination, claiming that Garcetti “has ignored credible allegations of sexual assault in his office previous”.
Garcetti has denied knowledge of the complaints, but many Democrats remain unconvinced.
“No one believes his denial,” said one California Democratic strategist.
Efforts by Garcetti supporters to sway Senate Democrats have yet to bear fruit.
Politico reported how Garcetti allies privately lobbied Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) last year giving “the strong impression that the Arizona Democrat could find himself cut off from donor networks if he refused to support” the bid of the former mayor of Los Angeles. However, “these types of tactics are counterproductive,” a source familiar with the dam effort said at the time.
The White House in January explained Biden’s decision to stick with Garcetti, insisting to reporters that the former mayor is “well qualified.”
“Our relationship with India is crucial and consequential, so we see it as a very important nomination,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, adding that the White House continues ” hoping that the full Senate will confirm it quickly.”
Still, Garcetti has seized other opportunities.
In an announcement Monday, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy said Garcetti would join a cohort of four distinguished visiting fellows at the center.
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“These leading individuals with decades of experience working on energy policy in the public sector will work closely with students and faculty across the university to bring a wealth of valuable experience and knowledge gained over their careers,” said Jason Bordoff , the founder. director of the Center for Global Energy Policy.
In a statement, Garcetti said he was “excited … to help elevate the groundbreaking local climate work underway around the world.”