Biden’s Deputy Press Secretary Suspended Without Pay After Allegations He Threatened Reporter Over Love Story

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo has been suspended for one week without pay after a story surfaced accusing him of demeaning and intimidating a Politico reporter.

Ducklo reportedly tried to kill a story, which has since become public, about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, who used to cover Biden’s campaign. He “lashed out” at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri in January 2021 for pursuing the story, threatening to “destroy” her and ruin her reputation if she published the news, according to a Friday report from Vanity Fair.

Ducklo’s comments to Palmeri, which were made off-the-record, allegedly didn’t stop there, according to the report. He also accused Palmeri of being “jealous” that an unknown man “wanted to fuck” McCammond instead of her, according to Vanity Fair.

The report noted that “due to the ethics questions that factor into the relationship between a journalist and White House official,” Ducklo’s dating life fell “under the purview of” Palmeri’s reporting. The incident reportedly sparked a back-and-forth conversation between Politico and various senior officials within the Biden administration, Vanity Fair reported.

In light of this report, the White House announced that Ducklo is not only receiving a one-week suspension, but will also “no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico” upon returning to the job, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Friday.

“TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life,” Psaki wrote in a tweet. “He is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the President. In addition to his initial apology, he has sent the reporter a personal note expressing his profound regret.”

Vanity Fair’s report noted that Ducklo emailed an apology to Palmeri following the back-and-forth with the White House. The email reportedly “did not delve into any specifics” and Ducklo failed to “apologize for threatening and sexually harassing the reporter,” according to Vanity Fair.

Biden made comments at the start of his presidency regarding his expectations for professional behavior under his tenure and promised to “fire you on the spot” if he ever heard of anyone treating “another colleague with disrespect.” (RELATED: ‘I Will Fire You On The Spot’: Biden Says He Will Have Zero Tolerance For Staffers Disrespecting Others)

“I am not joking when I say this: If you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” Biden said while he was virtually swearing-in appointees. “No ifs, ands, or buts.”