White House Press Aide Resigns Over Call to Reporter

WASHINGTON — T.J. Ducklo, a deputy White House press secretary, resigned on Saturday after reports that he used abusive and sexist language with a female reporter working on an article about his romantic relationship with a journalist from another publication.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced the resignation in a statement on Saturday evening, a day after saying that Mr. Ducklo would be suspended without pay for a week.

“We accepted the resignation of T.J. Ducklo after a discussion with him this evening,” Ms. Psaki said, noting that Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, agreed with the decision. “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.”

Mr. Ducklo, 32, had served as the national press secretary during Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign, engaging frequently with reporters and acting as a spokesman for the campaign. During the transition, Mr. Ducklo served as a spokesman and was named as a deputy press secretary.

His quick departure suggests that Mr. Biden was eager to avoid having his communications office bogged down in a drawn-out controversy in the early days of his administration. Several female reporters had asked Ms. Psaki on Friday how Mr. Ducklo could effectively work with reporters.

The resignation follows a report on Friday by Vanity Fair that recounted a purported exchange he had with Tara Palmeri, a reporter for Politico who had contacted him about his relationship with Alexi McCammond, who covered the Biden campaign for the online publication Axios.

According to the account in Vanity Fair, which was later confirmed by The New York Times, Mr. Ducklo told Ms. Palmeri that he would “destroy” her if she published an article on the relationship. He also reportedly told her that she was “jealous” of Ms. McCammond and was pursuing the story because of that. He used vulgar language, according to two people with knowledge of the phone call.

Ms. Psaki said on Friday that Mr. Ducklo had spoken to Ms. Palmeri and apologized and later sent a note apologizing again. Ms. Psaki also said that White House officials had told senior editors at Politico that Mr. Ducklo’s behavior was not acceptable.

When Mr. Ducklo returned to work, she said, he would not be allowed to interact with Politico reporters.

“And that, in our view, was a — was an important step to send the message that we don’t find it acceptable,” she said at the time. She also called the one-week suspension a “serious punishment.”

But that position was not sustainable longer than a day.

In part, the swift change reflected the red line that Mr. Biden himself set for personal conduct in his administration.

On Inauguration Day, the president delivered a charge to hundreds of his political appointees when he swore them in, warning that he would fire anyone he heard being disrespectful.

“If you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” Mr. Biden said. “No ifs, ands or buts. Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years.”

Asked on Friday about whether Mr. Ducklo’s behavior met that standard, Ms. Psaki said that “it doesn’t meet our standard — it doesn’t meet the president’s standard.” But she declined to say at the time why he should not be dismissed.

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