While Mr. Grassley’s report does not make a decisive conclusion that Mr. Garcetti knew about his aide’s behavior, the idea that he was completely unaware of what has been widely described as an open secret “strains our understanding of workplaces,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and follows local politics closely.
That is particularly true, Ms. Levinson said, because Mr. Jacobs was someone “handpicked to help the mayor because the mayor knew him.”
Ms. Levinson said that dynamic might make Mr. Grassley’s report more compelling even to Democrats. Some Democratic senators expressed concerns about Mr. Garcetti’s nomination, both before and after Mr. Grassley’s office released its report, although none have said outright that they will not vote for his confirmation.
Whether or not the mayor joins the Biden administration — he quickly supported Mr. Biden after ending his own presidential bid in 2020 — the path to higher elected office is far from clear for Mr. Garcetti, and his options have narrowed over the course of his tenure.
Mr. Garcetti, 51, has in the past been criticized for spending too much time out of the state, shoring up his national Democratic Party connections, instead of digging into the thorny challenges plaguing his hometown.
And although the mayor of Los Angeles has less power than counterparts in cities like New York, Mr. Garcetti is often blamed for the region’s homelessness crisis, which has gotten worse under his watch.
In an annual survey of satisfaction among county residents, conducted by the Los Angeles Initiative at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles, the mayor’s favorability ratings had slumped dramatically since 2020, to 45 percent from 62 percent two years ago.
Still, Ms. Levinson said there was still a path for Mr. Garcetti.
“I think we are a nation of amnesiacs,” she said. “He’s a young guy, he’s a smart guy, he’s an ambitious guy. I think he’s a good campaigner in a lot of ways. If he doesn’t want this to be the end, I don’t think it has to be.”
Shawn Hubler contributed reporting.