White House Deputy Press Secretary T.J. Ducklo was suspended for a week without pay after threats and derogatory statements he made to a Politico reporter were made public.
Ducklo berated journalist Tara Palmeri after she called Ducklo’s girlfriend Alexi McCammond for a story Politico was writing on their relationship. McCammond is a reporter for Axios who had previously covered the Biden campaign, switching to a different beat once she began her relationship with Ducklo. Though Ducklo was contacted by a separate male reporter, he chose to call Palmeri back. On the call he threatened Palmeri and accused her of being jealous of his relationship.
“I will destroy you,” Ducklo said, according to reports in Vanity Fair.
The report claims that Ducklo insinuated Palmeri was covering the story as a bit of revenge over McCammond’s prior relationship with a third person. Palmeri has no relationship with McCammond and was assigned the story as part of her role at Politico.
Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared on Twitter that Ducklo has been punished.
“TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life. 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,” she wrote. “With the approval of the White House Chief of Staff, he has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico.”
Ducklo’s actions and punishment run counter to statements made by Biden on his first day in office. At a swearing-in ceremony for his appointees, the president said he held a zero-tolerance policy on disrespect.
“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,” he said. “No ifs, ands, or buts.”