A White House official who threatened to “destroy” a journalist seeking to cover his relationship with another reporter has resigned.
TJ Ducklo was less than a month into his role as deputy press secretary in Joe Biden’s administration – and his departure came a day after he was suspended for a week without pay.
According to Vanity Fair, Mr Ducklo had vowed to ruin the reputation of Tara Palmeri if she published a story about him dating Alexi McCammond, an Axios reporter who had previously covered the Biden campaign.
He allegedly made derogatory and misogynistic comments in a call to Palmeri, and also claimed the journalist was “jealous” about the relationship.
In a statement on Saturday, Mr Ducklo said he was “devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed my White House colleagues and President Biden”.
The aide added: “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. It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful and unacceptable.”
Mr Ducklo’s conduct had raised awkward questions for Mr Biden. During a virtual swearing-in for staff on inauguration day, he had warned them: “If you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki ended up facing tough questions from reporters when it emerged that he had merely been suspended for a week. She said Mr Ducklo had apologised to the reporter in question, and stressed that the administration was taking the incident seriously.
In response to Mr Ducklo’s resignation, which makes him the first official to leave Mr Biden’s administration, Ms Psaki said: “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 actions.”