President Joe Biden’s aide has resigned after the White House says lashed out at a reporter who asked about his personal life during an off-the-record phone call.
Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo is said to have made threats and used derogatory language toward Politico reporter Tara Palmeri.
“No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior,” Ducklo said in his resignation statement. “I used language no woman should ever have to hear from anyone …”
Vanity Fair reports that during the off-the-record call, Ducklo made derogatory and misogynistic comments that accused Palmeri of only reporting on his relationship because she was jealous.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that Ducklo apologized to Palmeri shortly after the comments were made, sent her a personal note expressing his regret and was suspended for a week without pay.
“That is a significant step. I’m not aware of a history of that step being taken …,” Psaki said. “So those were the steps that were taken, and we felt it was a serious punishment.”
Psaki said the issues were not related to the White House its business and said when Ducklo returned from his suspension he wouldn’t work with Politico reporters anymore — but he has since resigned.
Psaki was asked if this was short of what Biden said on Inauguration Day: “I promise I will fire you on the spot — no ifs, ands, or buts — if they speak down to or disrespect their colleagues.”
She said it doesn’t meet the President’s standard and it was important the White House took a step to make it clear. When asked if the President was involved in this discussion, she said no.
“No, I have not discussed it with the President,” she said. “It was a decision I made, and with the approval of the Chief of Staff.”
On Saturday, the Psaki released a statement accepting Ducklo’s resignation.
“We are committed to striving every day to meet the standards 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.”
Vanity Fair’s article states White House officials “took aim” at the reporter and accusing her of breaking an off-the-record agreement with Ducklo — the article states the White House pressed Politico as to why the contents of the call had been revealed.
The article states Palmeri only informed her editors of the contents of the call, which she had transcribed into her notes as it was happening.
Palmeri declined to comment to Vanity Fair, and Psaki and Ducklo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.