Psaki dodges on why aide was not fired 'on the spot' for abusive treatment of a reporter

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki Tuesday declined to say why press aide TJ Ducklo was not immediately fired for abusive language toward a reporter, given President Biden’s vow to fire “on the spot” advisers who are disrespectful.

Asked why the White House Ducklo was not summarily fired, Psaki said his resignation was “something we all agreed on.” 

“He’s no longer employed here and I think that speaks for itself,” Psaki said of Ducklo’s actions. 

“If you’re 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,” Biden told staff last month.

On Friday, Psaki said Ducklo would be suspended for a week without pay and wouldn’t be able to interact with Politico reporters anymore after his mistreatment of reporter Tara Palmeri nearly a month ago. One day later, she announced his resignation. 

Ducklo had not been formally disciplined until the report of his actions went public. When a Politico editor reached out to the White House following the call between Ducklo and Palmeri, Ducklo apologized to Palmeri. 

“The president leads by example, and I try to do the same. On Saturday when we announced that TJ Ducklo had resigned his position– something we all agreed was the right path forward–  I made clear that every day we were going to try to meet the standard set out by the president in treating others with dignity and respect with civility.” 

Ducklo had not been disciplined until the report of his actions went public. When a Politico editor reached out to the White House following the call between Ducklo and Palmeri, Ducklo apologized to Palmeri. 

Ducklo, 32, had been working as deputy press secretary in the White House after taking an active role on Biden’s press team on the campaign trail. 

His resignation followed a Vanity Fair revelation that he’d reportedly tried to bully Palmeri into quashing her story on his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, who at the time was covering the White House and covered the Biden campaign.

“I will destroy you,” Ducklo reportedly told Palmeri, if she published the account. Ducklo also reportedly used vulgar language to tell Palmeri she was only pursuing the story because she was jealous of McCammond. 

The next day, Politico’s Playbook column, which Palmeri helps write, questioned whether Biden’s promise to fire disrespectful aides applied to “how mid-level press aides treat reporters.”

Before Politico wrote the story Tuesday, People Magazine published a glowing profile of the relationship. It was the first time either one had publicly acknowledged that they were dating.

Ducklo said in a statement he decided to resign his position and will not be returning from administrative leave.

“I used language that no woman should ever hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job,” Ducklo said. “It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable.”

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It’s the first departure from the new administration, less than a month into Biden’s tenure.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report. 

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