White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo was suspended for a week after berating a Politico reporter last month, press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
“TJ Ducklo apologized to the reporter with whom he had a heated discussion about his personal life,” Psaki said in a statement that was published in a series of tweets. “He is the first to recognize that this is not the standard of conduct set by the president.”
Ducklo will be suspended for a week without pay and when he returns he will not be assigned to work with reporters at Politico, Psaki said in the statement.
Vanity Fair reported Friday that Ducklo threatened Politico reporter Tara Palmeri in late January after a colleague of her asked for a story about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, who previously covered Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
Citing two unnamed sources familiar with the incident, Vanity Fair reported that Ducklo Palmeri said, “I will destroy you,” and that if she published the article about him and McCammond, he would ruin her reputation. He also accused Palmeri of being “jealous” of the relationship; Vanity Fair reported that Palmeri was assigned the story and “did not independently pursue” it.
Psaki said at the daily press conference on Friday that Ducklo’s comments were “unacceptable”. When asked what they are doing to address Ducklos’ sexist remarks, Psaki said, “We had discussions with him about this.”
She noted that White House communications director Kate Bedingfield contacted the editor of the Politico Playbook “immediately after” the conversation between Ducklo and Palmeri.
“We have tried at all levels to convey our apologies and it was clear that this will never happen again and it will not be tolerated here in the White House,” said Psaki
On his first day in office, Biden warned his staff that disrespectful colleagues would not be tolerated in his White House.
“I’m not kidding when I say this: if you ever work with me and I hear that you are treating another colleague with disrespect, speak to someone, I promise I will fire you immediately. No ifs or buts, ”said Biden during a virtual swearing-in ceremony for the appointed people on January 20th.
When asked at the press conference whether Ducklo’s comments were up to the President’s standards, Psaki said, “As I said, it’s not up to our standard. It’s not up to the President’s standard.”
“It was important that we took a step to make this clear. That included not just an apology direct from him and an apology direct from us at the highest level, but also a step to get him for a week without pay suspend, “said Psaki said. “That was from our point of view … an important step in sending the message that we don’t find it acceptable.”
Psaki noted that the decision to suspend Ducklo was made by her and a conversation with Chief of Staff Ron Klain. She added that Biden was not involved in the decision.
People magazine first covered the Ducklo and McCammond relationship earlier this week, which began in November. McCammond was banned from Biden’s campaign after informing her editors of their relationship, an Axios spokeswoman told People. The spokeswoman told People that McCammond had been recruited “to cover progressive lawmakers in Congress and progressives in the US and Vice President Kamala Harris.”
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