"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," said former Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo

By Maria Pasquini
February 14, 2021 11:20 AM
Tj Ducklo
TJ Ducklo
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

One day after being suspended, a White House aide resigned after it was revealed that he had threatened and demeaned a female reporter last month while she was preparing a story about him.

Former Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo issued a statement on Saturday about his resignation, writing, "no words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior." 

"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," he added.

"I am devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed my White House colleagues and President Biden, and after a discussion with White House communications leadership tonight, I resigned my position and will not be returning from administrative leave," Ducklo continued. "I know this was terrible. I know I can't take it back. But I also know I can learn from it and do better. 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."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also issued a statement, saying Ducklo's resignation was accepted "after a discussion with him this evening." 

"This conversation occurred with the support of the White House Chief of Staff," Psaki continued. "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."

Citing sources, Vanity Fair previously reported that Ducklo "lashed out" at Politico's Tara Palmeri on Inauguration Day after learning the outlet was aware he was dating a journalist for the website Axios.  

While Ducklo and the other journalist, Alexi McCammond, say they had previously disclosed the relationship to their bosses and made ethical considerations such as McCammond adjusting her beat, their romance was not yet publicly known.

Politico was pursuing it in part because of the possible conflicts it raised, according to Vanity Fair.

Sources told Vanity Fair that Ducklo warned Palmeri "I will destroy you" and also "made derogatory and misogynistic comments." 

Ducklo subsequently emailed to apologize to Palmeri, "stating that he was sorry he lost his cool, but he did not delve into any specifics or apologize for threatening and sexually harassing the reporter," Vanity Fair reported.

His relationship with McCammond, meanwhile, became public on Monday when the couple talked to PEOPLE. 

Vanity Fair's story published Friday morning was a previously undisclosed chapter in the saga — prompting criticism of the White House in large part because President Biden previously said he would immediately "fire" anybody working for him who treated "another colleague with disrespect."

The White House announced on Friday that Ducklo was being suspended for one week without pay and had both apologized to Palmeri and sent her "a personal note expressing his profound regret." 

During the regular press briefing on Friday afternoon, Psaki reiterated that Ducklo's behavior was "unacceptable" and described his suspension as a "significant step." 

She said the White House had also apologized to Politico "and been clear this will never happen again and it is not going to be tolerated here at the White House."