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White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigns, apologizes for harassing reporter

Ducklo said that his decision to resign came after a meeting with White House communications leadership.
TJ Ducklo
White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo listens as press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on Feb. 9, 2021.Patrick Semansky / AP

White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned on Saturday, one day after being suspended without pay for harassing and threatening a female reporter from Politico earlier this year.

"No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior," he said in a statement posted to Twitter. "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."

He said the language he used was "abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable."

Ducklo added that his decision to resign came after a meeting with White House communications leadership.

"I know this was terrible. I know I can't take it back," Ducklo said in his statement.

In a separate statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is "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."

Psaki announced Ducklo's suspension on Friday after an article appeared in Vanity Fair alleged that Ducklo had threatened a journalist in January when he learned that Politico was pursuing a story about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond.

According to Vanity Fair, Ducklo called Politico reporter Tara Palmeri and made "derogatory and misogynistic comments" and threatened to "destroy" her.

One day later, Politico's Playbook morning newsletter mentioned Ducklo's attacks.

"Serious question on our minds this morning: Does this standard apply to how mid-level press aides treat reporters?," the authors wrote, referring to President Joe Biden's commitment to stamp out incivility among his staffers.

Ducklo is a former member of the NBC News communications team and McCammond is an NBC News and MSNBC contributor.

Biden, during a virtual swearing-in of new appointees on his first day in office, said that he would implement a zero tolerance rule for this type of behavior, a common occurrence during the previous administration.

“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. No ifs, ands, or buts,” Biden said.

But on Friday, after news broke that Ducklo has been suspended for one week without pay, the White House received pushback on social media from people questioning why the Biden administration appeared to be going back on its word.

Psaki acknowledged on Friday that she had known about the incident involving Ducklo and Palmeri for weeks but had dealt with it in a "private manner."

"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," Psaki said in a tweet. "In addition to his initial apology, he has sent the reporter a personal note expressing his profound regret."