Deputy White House press secretary TJ Ducklo on Saturday said he was resigning amid allegations that he made “derogatory and misogynistic” remarks to Politico reporter Tara Palmeri nearly a month ago.
Despite President Joe Biden’s warning last month that he would fire staffers “on the spot” if they were disrespectful to others, Ducklo was merely suspended without pay for a week and told to apologize.
Ducklo issued a statement on Saturday expressing his “regret,” “embarrassment,” and “disgust” for his behavior.
“I used language that no woman should ever hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job,” Ducklo said. “It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable.”
Ducklo said he decided to resign his position and will not be returning from administrative leave.
The allegations against him stem from an off-the-record call that took place between Palmeri and Ducklo last month, during which he allegedly said: “I will destroy you.”
TJ Ducklo, left, and Tara Palmeri. (FOX/Getty Images)
The next day, Politico’s Playbook column, which Palmeri helps write, questioned whether Biden’s promise to fire disrespectful aides applied to “how mid-level press aides treat reporters.”
Both Palmeri and a male colleague separately reached out to Ducklo last month to inquire about his romantic relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, a potential conflict of interest since she was covering the White House, Vanity Fair revealed.
In the off-the-record call, Ducklo allegedly threatened to attack her reputation if she published the story and hurled profanities and other insults.
Vanity Fair reported that Ducklo accused Palmeri of jealousy and holding a grudge against McCammond.
Palmeri, meanwhile, had been assigned to cover the story as part of her job as a D.C.-based politics reporter and had never interacted with McCammond until she began work on the article.
A Politico editor reached out to the White House following the call between Ducklo and Palmeri, and Ducklo apologized, according to Vanity Fair.
Before Politico broke the story Tuesday, People Magazine published a glowing profile of the relationship. It was the first time either one had publicly acknowledged that they were dating.
In this Feb. 9, 2021 photo, White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo listens as press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington.
It’s the first departure from the new administration, less than a month into President Biden’s tenure, and it comes as the White House was facing criticism for not living up to standards set by Biden himself in their decision to retain Ducklo.
During a virtual swearing-in for staff on Inauguration Day, Biden said that “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,” Biden added.
The White House responded to the ordeal only after it had made headlines. On Friday – nearly a month after the phone call had taken place – White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki said Ducklo had been placed on a “one-week suspension without pay” and will no longer be assigned to work with any Politico reporters when he returns.
Psaki said Ducklo had also sent Palmeri a “personal note expressing his profound regret.”
After Ducklo’s announcement on Saturday, the White House said it had accepted his resignation.
“We are committed to striving every day 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 out words and our actions,” Psaki said in a statement.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.