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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden is ready to nominate Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as his ambassador to India, sending a trusted political ally to the world's biggest democracy, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Driving the news: Biden is planning to name his first slate of political ambassadors as soon as next week, rewarding political allies like Garcetti, as well as big-dollar donors, many of whom covet postings in elegant European capitals.

  • The White House is still finishing the vetting process for potential ambassadors, including Garcetti, whose office called an Axios report earlier this month that he was being considered for an ambassadorship "speculative."
  • When the vetting process is complete, Biden is expected to formally send more than a dozen names to the Senate to begin the confirmation process for his first batch of political ambassadors.
  • Garcetti, who served as the co-chair of Biden's presidential campaign, was initially considered for the Cabinet. However, his chances diminished after a sexual harassment lawsuit against one of his former aides, Rick Jacobs, received national attention after journalist Yashar Ali reported about his own experience with Jacobs.
  • A Garcetti spokesperson, as well as the White House, declined to comment.

Between the lines: Biden has already called some applicants to offer them the country where he wants them to serve.

  • Those one-on-one calls speak to the premium Biden places on personal relationships in his diplomatic worldview. They're also a reminder that ambassadors are directly answerable to the president.
  • “The ambassador doesn’t work for the State Department,” said former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who also served as U.S. ambassador to China. “He or she works for the president of the United States.”

The intrigue: Some donors are privately complaining that the White House’s entire ambassador process has been too protracted and too opaque, as they grouse and gossip about who might receive what.

  • Other donors have been informed that they are unlikely to serve in Biden’s first term and have, at least, the certainty of rejection.
  • The president began reviewing names of potential ambassadors in March, and officials are putting a premium on diversity in assembling the first batch that he'll send to the Senate.

What we are hearing: Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of State, is in line for Israel, as Axios first reported.

  • Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator and Interior secretary, is preparing to go to Mexico.
  • Mark Gittenstein, an international lawyer who was President Obama's first ambassador to Romania, will end up in Brussels as the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
  • Julie Smith, a former Biden deputy national security adviser, will likely serve as ambassador to NATO.
  • Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is expected to be the ambassador to the World Food Program in Rome.
  • Former Chicago mayor and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will be heading to Japan.
  • Nick Burns, a career diplomat, is Biden's likely choice for China.
  • Denise Bauer, a prominent fundraiser and former Obama ambassador to Belgium, is scheduled for France.
  • Michael Adler, another big-dollar donor, is slated for Belgium, as first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by Axios.
  • David Cohen, a former lobbyist for Comcast who's now chairman of the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, should be heading north to Canada.

What we are watching: Will Jeff Flake, a former Republican senator who endorsed Biden, be offered a prominent G20 country or an important multilateral position?

  • Also, there's a big focus on who gets the United Kingdom (formally, the ambassador of the United States of America to the Court of St. James's).

Fun facts: The U.K. ambassador's residence, Winfield House, is a neo-Georgian mansion abutting Regent's Park.

  • It has a lawn big enough to land a helicopter and is the second-largest private garden in the city.
  • The first is at Buckingham Palace.

Go deeper

Sources: No Biden firings

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden isn't inclined to fire any senior national security officials over the chaos in Kabul unless the situation drastically deteriorates or there's significant loss of American life, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Dismissing national security advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin or CIA Director William Burns would be tantamount to admitting a mistake, and the president stands by his decision.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

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