White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo resigned Saturday, a day after he was suspended for a week without pay after news broke that he had harassed a Politico reporter and threatened to “destroy” her over a story she was pursuing.
The Washington Times reports that Ducklo submitted his resignation in the wake of an expose published by Vanity Fair Friday that revealed Ducklo had lashed out at Politico’s Tara Palmeri during an angry off-the-record telephone call on Jan. 20.
“No ifs, ands, or buts”
According to Vanity Fair, Palmeri and another journalist at Politico were pursuing a scoop on Ducklo’s relationship with another reporter. Palmeri reached out to Ducklo’s love interest, while her partner, a male journalist, reached out to Ducklo.
Ducklo responded by calling Palmeri and making what Vanity Fair described as “derogatory and misogynistic comments.” Among them was an assertion “that he would ruin her reputation if she published it,” Vanity Fair said.
At the time, Politico published an edition of its Playbook newsletter, authored in part by Palmeri, that drew attention to a statement made by President Joe Biden upon his inauguration: “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. No ifs, and, or buts.”
Many brought up this remark in the wake of Vanity Fair‘s report, as Ducklo wasn’t immediately fired. Instead, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said he’d be suspended for a week without pay at the approval of the chief of staff.
“TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life,” Psaki said, according to Vanity Fair. She went on:
In addition to his initial apology, he has sent the reporter a personal note expressing his profound regret. With the approval of the White House Chief of Staff, he has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico.
“This was terrible”
By the next day, Ducklo apparently couldn’t take the heat any longer, and stepped down from his position in the Biden White House.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the White House aide said he would “not be returning from administrative leave.”
“No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior,” he said. “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 went on: “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.”
Only time will tell if his efforts toward that goal prove successful, or if the 32-year-old’s career in Washington has met an early — and final — demise.