White House Deputy Press Officer T. J. Ducklo has been suspended without pay while an investigation is carried out over his conduct.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that Ducklo’s conduct was “completely unacceptable” after he reportedly issued a sexist and aggressive threat to journalist Tara Palmeri, who was seeking to cover his relationship with another reporter.
Ducklo is alleged to have warned: “I will destroy you” after she quizzed him about the relationship.
He is also alleged to have accused Palmeri of being jealous of his girlfriend because another male had suggested he wanted to ‘f*ck’ his partner instead of her.
Psaki said Palmeri had been contacted by staff “at the highest levels” of the White House’s communications team, who had apologised for it – as well as receiving a written apology from Ducklo himself.
“No one wants anyone to feel uncomfortable, to be put in an uncomfortable position,” she added.
Psaki said in a statement earlier Friday that Ducklo had been suspended without pay with the approval of White House chief of staff Ron Klain.
She said Ducklo “is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behaviour set out” by Biden, and that Ducklo had sent the reporter in question “a personal note professing his profound regret.”
On his first day in office, the new president warned hundreds of political appointees at their swearing-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. No ifs, ands or buts.”
The promise – a stark contrast to the mantra of the Trump administration – is now likely to be used to mount pressure on The White House to sack the young Deputy Press Officer.