White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo announced Saturday that he is resigning for the “abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable” threats he made to a female reporter in January. Ducklo’s resignation comes one day after he was placed on a one-week suspension over the incident.
Vanity Fair reported on Friday that Ducklo had threatened to “destroy” Politico reporter Tara Palmeri if she continued to pursue a story about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond. McCammond had previously covered the Biden campaign up until November, when she told her editors about her relationship with Ducklo and was reassigned to cover progressives and Vice President Kamala Harris.
CBS News has not been able to independently verify the phone call, but the conversation three weeks ago prompted a series of moves by the White House communications office, two people familiar with the situation told CBS News. It is unclear why it took more than three weeks for the White House to discipline Ducklo.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Ducklo said he is “devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed” President Biden and others at the White House.
“No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior,” Ducklo said in a statement. “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.”
“I knew this was terrible. I know I can’t take it back. But I also know that I can learn from it and do better,” Ducklo continued. “This incident is not representative of who I am as a person, and I will be determined to earn back the trust of everyone I have let down because of my intolerable actions.”
My statement on resigning from the White House. pic.twitter.com/3Jpiiv75vB
This is the first public statement Ducklo has made on the matter.
In a statement, press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the resignation on Saturday, saying she had a discussion with Ducklo on Saturday evening. White House chief of staff Ron Klain supported the conversation, she added.
“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 our actions,” Psaki said.
A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Biden is aware of the situation and supports Ducklo’s decision to resign.
Ducklo and McCammond’s relationship first came to light earlier this week in a feature story for People Magazine, weeks after January 20, when Palmeri had reached out to McCammond for comment. A male colleague reached out to Ducklo.
At some point that day, Ducklo angrily called Palmeri, according to Vanity Fair, saying he would destroy her reputation and accusing her of writing the story out of jealousy because another man “wanted to f–k” McCammond, and not her.
McCammond and Palmeri had never interacted prior to the attempted story, which Palmeri had been assigned to cover and did not pursue independently, Vanity Fair reported.
President Biden tells his appointees: “If you’re 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. On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.” https://t.co/1LntlB7T7E pic.twitter.com/P2aUyzC6pJ
Ducklo had been on Mr. Biden’s team since his most recent campaign for the White House. In December 2019, Ducklo announced he had been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer.
Arden Farhi and Bo Erickson contributed reporting.
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