President Joe Biden’s disgraced former White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo is pictured with his reporter girlfriend after he resigned Saturday over claims he threatened another journalist to keep their relationship under wraps.
His then-secret romance with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond was being reported on by Politico correspondent Tara Palmeri, sparking threats from Ducklo that he would ‘destroy’ her if she made it public.
The couple revealed their relationship in a People article last week, which came before Ducklo’s threats were revealed but after a complaint was made to his bosses.
The article states that the pair began dating in November after McCammond, 27, spent 2019 and 2020 covering the Biden campaign.
McCammond, who is also an NBC/MSNBC contributor, is reported to have been in a serious relationship for much of the campaign while Ducklo, 32, was ‘super single’.
Once they began dating in November, both said that they told their bosses about the relationship and McCammond asked that she be ‘taken off of the Biden beat’.
White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo has resigned after he reportedly threatened a reporter who was working on a story about his secret romantic relationship with another journalist. Pictured; TJ Ducklo and Alexi McCammond in an undated photo
McCammond (left) and Ducklo were being reported on by Politico’s Tara Palmer (right)
She was reassigned to covering progressive lawmakers in Congress and Vice President Kamala Harris.
‘TJ and I knew full well the unfair criticism our relationship might face, but knew that we weren’t going to let bullies get in the way of our own happiness,’ McCammond told People for the article published just last Monday.
McCammond and Ducklo had posted about their relationship in their Instagram stories, making the romance public themselves.
And when Politico informed the White House they were publishing their story about it on February 9, the People story appeared about the romance the night before.
‘When my personal life had the potential to interfere with my work, I didn’t think twice about sharing my happiness in November with Axios that I’d found someone in TJ who shows up for me in a way I’d only hoped for,’ McCammond, who was considered a rising star on her beat, added.
‘Switching beats was an easy decision thanks to my Axios [family], who had my back in November and know just how lovely it is to find someone who cares deeply about you’.
Before the scandal broke, a spokesperson for Axios had said that McCammond was ‘a valued member of the Axios team’, adding ‘we stand behind her and her coverage’.
‘We both realized we both felt the same way’, added Ducklo. ‘We’re both really happy, and we wanted to do it the right way.’
The couple said that they do not live together, insisting keep their home and work live ‘totally separate’.
They also revealed they became close after Ducklo’s diagnosis with stage four lung cancer in December 2019.
‘After the election, when we both had some downtime, it was clear that our years-long friendship had the potential for something else,’ McCammond said, adding that she sometimes accompanied him to scans.
‘When TJ was diagnosed … I had a sense then how much he meant to me and I’m just grateful that I get to be there for him now every step of the way as his partner.’
The couple revealed they became close after Ducklo’s diagnosis with stage four lung cancer in December 2019 and McCammond sometimes went to his scans, as pictured
McCammond, pictured, had been considered a rising star on the Biden beat
‘We weren’t going to let bullies get in the way of our own happiness,’ McCammond has said
In the People article, a White House aide also commented that the couple’s relationship ‘was the worst-kept secret in Washington’.
Yet their comments last week on how open they had been with their relationship did little in the way of damage control when Ducklo’s previous actions to keep it under wraps were revealed.
On Friday, Vanity Fair reported that Politico’ Palmeri reached out to McCammond to ask her about the romance in January while one of Palmeri’s male colleagues contacted Ducklo about it.
But Ducklo called Palmeri on Inauguration Day, instead of her male colleague, and threatened her in an effort to kill the story.
He told her he would ‘destroy’ her and accused her of being jealous that an unidentified man in the past had ‘wanted to f***’ McCammond ‘and not you.’
White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo (above) has resigned after threatening a reporter who was working on a story about his romantic relationship with another journalist
‘I am devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed my White House colleagues and President Biden,’ Ducklo said in a statement on his resignation on Saturday
After Ducklo’s comments to Palmeri, a Politico editor reached out to the White House, which led to several conversations between Politico staff and senior-level White House communications staff, including Psaki, Bedingfield, and Anita Dunn, director of West Wing operations and a longtime Democratic operative.
He resigned on Saturday after backlash when he received just a one-week suspension before his actions were made public by Vanity Fair this week.
‘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 said in a statement on Saturday.
McCammond, pictured, is also an NBC/MSNBC contributor
‘No words can express my regret, my embarrassment, and my disgust for my behavior. I used language that no woman should ever have to hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job.
‘It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful, and unacceptable,’ Ducklo added in his statement.
‘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.’
The White House confirmed Ducklo’s resignation, saying in a statement: ‘We accepted the resignation of TJ Ducklo after a discussion with him this evening.’
‘This conversation occurred with the support of the White House Chief of Staff. 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,’ the statement added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had come under fire for her initial decision to suspend suspend Ducklo for one week without pay, despite President Joe Biden’s vow of a zero-tolerance policy for abusive behavior in his administration.
Journalists heavily criticized the suspension as inadequate, saying it was a signal that reporters were fair game for abuse in the new administration.
‘Apparently members of the media don’t merit the same protections from Biden as his colleagues do,’ wrote Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple.
Politico’s top editors Matt Kaminski and Carrie Budoff Brown had said in a statement: ‘No journalist at Politico —or any other publication or network — should ever be subjected to such unfounded personal attacks while doing their job.’
At Friday’s briefing, Psaki had insisted that Ducklo’s suspension was an ‘important step’ to show his behavior was ‘completely unacceptable’.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki came under fire for her initial decision to suspend suspend Ducklo for one week without pay, which journalists blasted as inadequate
Ducklo’s threat to ‘destroy’ Palmeri only came to light this week, but occurred in a phone call on Inauguration Day – the same day that Biden vowed to fire ‘on the spot’ any aides that ‘disrespect’ other people.
The timeline raised questions over why Ducklo had only been suspended after his behavior was made public and was not reprimanded at the time.
Psaki avoided directly answering the question when asked why Ducklo had not been immediately fired over the incident saying ‘we felt it was a serious punishment’ to give him a one-week suspension.
‘It doesn’t meet our standard, it doesn’t meet the president’s standard,’ Psaki said.
‘It was important that we took a step to make that clear and that included not just an apology directly from him and apologies directly from us at the highest levels there, but also a step to suspend him for one week without pay,’ said Psaki.
She added: ‘That, in our view, was an important step to send the message that we don’t find it acceptable.’
CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins pressed Psaki on the content of what he said and the sexist tone of his remarks: ‘It wasn’t just a hostile conversation. I think we’ve all probably have plenty of those and vice versa, those happen.
‘But you know the language that he is alleged to have used according to this report – it is arguably or even not arguably sexist. So, what are you doing to deal with that part of it.’