White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned Saturday 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 previously covered Biden’s campaign. He “lashed out” at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri in January 2021 for pursuing the story, threatening to “destroy” her if she published the news, according to a Friday report from Vanity Fair.
Ducklo was suspended for one week without pay Friday after the Vanity Fair article was published. Just one day later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that they had “accepted” his resignation following “a discussion with him” on Saturday evening.
“This conversation occurred with the support of the White House Chief of Staff,” Psaki said in a statement. We are committed to striving every day to meet the standard set by the President in treating others with dignity and respect, with civility and with a value for others through our words and our actions.” (RELATED: Friday Evening Dispatch: Biden Official Threatens Reporter, WH Rebukes CDC On Schools, Dem Senator Opposes $15 Minimum Wage)
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) February 14, 2021
The former deputy press secretary also allegedly accused Palmeri of being “jealous” that an unknown man “wanted to f*ck” McCammond instead of her, the Vanity Fair report wrote.
“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, Vanity Fair also added. The incident reportedly sparked a back-and-forth conversation between Politico and various senior officials within the Biden administration, Vanity Fair reported.
Ducklo sent an email apologizing to Palmeri after Politico’s discussion with the White House, but the email reportedly “did not delve into any specifics” and Ducklo failed to “apologize for threatening and sexually harassing the reporter,” the article reads.
Ducklo issued a statement in addition to Psaki’s on Saturday and wrote that he is unable to express his “regret,” “embarrassment” and “disgust” over his “behavior.”
“I used language that no woman should ever have to hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job,” Ducklo noted. “It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable.”
“I know this was terrible, and I can’t take it back. But I also know I can learn from it and do better,” Ducklo continued.
My statement on resigning from the White House. pic.twitter.com/3Jpiiv75vB
— TJ Ducklo (@TDucklo) February 14, 2021
Psaki was pressed on the decision to suspend Ducklo during Friday’s press briefing. In particular, she was asked whether the suspension was a contradiction to President Joe Biden’s recent declaration that he would fire any staffer “on the spot” if they disrespected or spoke down to “a colleague.”
Psaki did not directly answer the questions, but asserted that Ducklo’s actions failed both her and Biden’s standards. (RELATED: White House Explains Why Press Aide Was Suspended For Sexist Comments To Reporter)