White House deputy press secretary resigns after threatening reporter
WASHINGTON (AP) - White House deputy press secretary T.J. Ducklo has resigned, the day after he was suspended for issuing a sexist and profane threat to a journalist seeking to cover his relationship with another reporter.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced the move in a statement Saturday, and said Ducklo’s decision came with the support of White House chief of staff Ron Klain.
"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.
Ducklo posted his resignation letter on Twitter.
"I know this was terrible. I know he can't take it back," Ducklo posted. "This incident is not representative of who I am as a person."
It’s the first departure from the new White House, less than a month into President Joe Biden’s tenure.
Ducklo’s personal life came under scrutiny earlier this week when Politico reported on his relationship with a reporter for the news outlet Axios who was assigned to cover the Biden campaign and its transition. Before Politico broke the story Tuesday, People Magazine published a glowing profile of the relationship. It was the first time either one had publicly acknowledged the relationship.
On Friday, Vanity Fair published a report citing two unnamed sources that Ducklo had threatened the Politico reporter to try to suppress the story, telling her "I will destroy you."
Psaki, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield and Anita Dunn, director of West Wing operations, were all reportedly involved in conversations with Politico editors about the incident. Psaki said in her statement that when Ducklo returns, he won't be assigned to work with any Politico reporters.
President Donald Trump's White House was known for an adversarial relationship with reporters, and both Trump himself and his lead spokespeople would frequently pick fights with and lob personal attacks at reporters from behind the podium. But the Biden White House sought to strike a more cordial and professional tone with the Washington press corps from the start, installing a cadre of seasoned Washington communicators led by Psaki.
On her first day behind the podium, Psaki told reporters, "I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play."
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"There will be moments when we disagree," Psaki added, "but we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people."
Biden offered his own standard for the conduct he expects from his staff in comments he made during a virtual swearing-in with staff the day he was sworn in.
"I’m not joking when I say this: If you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot," he said that day. "No ifs, ands or buts."