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Garcetti likely to be named ambassador to India, source says

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to be named U.S. ambassador to India.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is likely to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to India by President Biden, a person familiar with the vetting process said Wednesday.

That process, the person said, is not entirely complete — and an official announcement could still be days or even weeks away.

Biden, who has yet to announce any of his picks to fill ambassador posts, has been planning to roll out the list all at once, a strategic move that has allowed speculation to build around several likely nominees.

The Associated Press reported earlier Wednesday that Biden is expected to announce that Garcetti, 50, will be picked for the post, citing a person familiar with the matter.

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The AP said it was not clear when a nomination would be announced. The White House declined to comment on the report, adding that “no one is final until they’re announced,” the AP said.

Axios reported Tuesday that Biden is “ready to nominate” Garcetti, citing people familiar with the matter.

Alex Comisar, a spokesman for the mayor, declined to comment.

Garcetti served as a co-chairman of Biden’s campaign last year and, after the election, in the same role on the president-elect’s inauguration committee.

A White House official confirmed to The Times earlier this month that Garcetti is on the shortlist for the position. Biden’s next batch of ambassador nominees is coming “soon,” a spokesperson said at the time.

The U.S. Senate would have to approve Garcetti’s post.

Garcetti’s departure could set off a special election or the Los Angeles City Council could appoint someone to temporarily fill the seat. His term runs until December 2022.

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Five months ago, Garcetti announced that he had decided not to take an unspecified job in the Biden administration, saying there was “no task more urgent” than remaining as mayor during the peak of the pandemic.

Now, he hasn’t publicly ruled out the idea of going to India.

Garcetti was elected mayor in 2013 and reelected in 2017. He is serving a longer second term — of 5½ years, as opposed to four — because voters in 2015 backed a one-time change in the city’s election dates.

Garcetti is in the running for a post in the Biden administration, just as L.A. emerges from the pandemic, confronts a homelessness crisis and faces huge issues around race.

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Garcetti’s possible departure for India comes as the city slowly recovers from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and grapples with an ongoing homelessness crisis.

The overseas position, if it goes to the mayor, will be viewed as a reward to a longtime supporter of Biden’s.

Garcetti’s possible exit from L.A. has attorneys representing a police officer in a high-profile lawsuit against the city seeking to fast-track the deposition of Garcetti’s wife, Amy Elaine Wakeland.

Attorneys filed papers last week asking the court to order Wakeland to be deposed before June 15. Wakeland “will be out of this court’s subpoena power once she and the mayor have relocated out of the country,” the attorneys wrote.

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Emails included in the court filing show that a deputy city attorney assured opposing counsel that Wakeland would be available on her scheduled deposition date of July, noting “there is no reason or good cause to move the date.”

Stokols reported from Washington, Smith from Los Angeles.


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