White House deputy press secretary resigns after threatening reporter over story about him
Posted February 13, 2021 8:01 p.m. EST
Updated February 15, 2021 3:03 a.m. EST
CNN — White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo, who threatened a reporter who asked about his relationship with another reporter, has resigned.
"We accepted the resignation of TJ Ducklo after a discussion with him this evening," said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, in a statement. "This conversation occurred with the support of the White House chief of staff."
Ducklo released his own statement on Twitter saying, in part, "I know this was terrible. I know I can't take it back. But I also know I can learn from it and do better."
Ducklo was suspended Friday for one week without pay after Vanity Fair story published earlier that day a reporter from Politico was working on an article about his romantic relationship with a reporter from another news outlet.
Multiple White House officials described the situation as untenable because they did not feel a one-week suspension was sufficient. Another source familiar with the situation said no one expressed that sentiment directly to the leadership of the press and communications office. This person said Ducklo's resignation was a result of a realization by the press and communications leadership that there needed to be a conversation with Ducklo about what was best for President Joe Biden, and whether his remaining on the job represented the standard this administration tried to set.
Biden was made aware of the situation involving Ducklo late Saturday afternoon, a White House official said, and the President supports his decision to resign.
Psaki said Ducklo apologized to the reporter he threatened, Politico's Tara Palmeri, over the incident. She had reported on Tuesday that Ducklo had been in a romantic relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond.
Axios told Politico that McCammond "disclosed her relationship" with Ducklo in November and was "taken off the Biden beat." But Palmeri pointed out that McCammond's beat includes covering Vice President Kamala Harris and that she had commented glowingly on Biden after he was inaugurated.
The Vanity Fair story said that Ducklo had threatened Palmeri over her piece, vowing he would "destroy her" if she published it. Ducklo, according to the story, also made misogynistic comments to Palmeri and referenced Palmeri's own personal life, accusing her at one point of being "jealous" about his relationship with McCammond.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described where some White House officials shared their concerns about Ducklo's suspension. A source said they did not share those concerns directly to the leadership of the press and communications office.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.