iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was set to be the country’s envoy to India, has been put on hold due to several sexual allegations, according to a media report.
In a statement released by his office, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said he intended to object to President Joe Biden’s nomination of Garcetti to serve as ambassador to India, which has been languishing in the Senate since July.
“The United States owes it to the Republic of India to send them a qualified ambassador that will represent the values of the United States,” Grassley wrote.
“Mayor Garcetti may very well be fully qualified, but at this time, the Senate needs to look into these allegations further,” Grassley added. “Until my staff and I have conducted a thorough investigation and are able to speak with everyone involved I cannot vote to confirm Mr. Garcetti.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Garcetti, 51, would replace Kenneth Juster, who served as the US Ambassador to India during the previous Trump administration.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in December, Garcetti told senators considering his nomination that he never witnessed former adviser Rick Jacobs sexually harass one of his police bodyguards, allegations that are at the center of a lawsuit filed against his administration.
In a statement Thursday, Garcetti’s office responded: “Repeating a malicious falsehood will never turn a lie into the truth. The mayor has testified under oath multiple times, including before the U.S. Senate, and stands by his testimony unequivocally: He absolutely did not witness nor was he informed of any of the behavior being alleged.”
The lawsuit against the city charges that Jacobs frequently sexually harassed one of the mayor’s police bodyguards while Garcetti ignored it or laughed it off. The mayor has repeatedly denied the claims.
Jacobs has called the allegations against him “pure fiction,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
In his statement, Grassley wrote that “whistleblowers who have spoken with my office have not previously spoken to the Foreign Relations Committee, and are presenting new allegations that must be fully investigated.”
“Serious questions remain regarding the alleged misconduct, as well as the mayor’s knowledge of that misconduct,” Grassley added.
The internal investigation has put on hold the confirmation of Garcetti, resulting in the absence of a top American diplomat’s position vacant in New Delhi at a crucial time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the documents sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, Grassley said that Garcetti may very well be fully qualified, but at this time, the Senate needs to look into these allegations further.
The United States owes it to the Republic of India to send them a qualified Ambassador that will represent the values of the United States, Grassley said in the documents sent to McConnell on Thursday to notify the Senate about the hold.
Politico was the first to report this news.
A Grassley aide told the media outlet that the Senator’s staff are connected with one whistleblower.
Since our initial conversations, we’ve been able to learn more from additional sources which seem to corroborate that the mayor was aware of this activity, the aide told the media outlet.
Garcetti, who has been the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles since 2013, has traveled several times to India, most recently as a councilman. In college, he spent a year studying Hindi and Urdu.
A Rhodes Scholar, he studied at Queen’s College, Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Garcetti was selected as an inaugural Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society and taught at Occidental College’s Department of Diplomacy and World Affairs, as well as at the University of Southern California’s School of International Relations.