White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo has been suspended without pay for one week after it surfaced that he had issued threats and used derogatory language against Politico reporter Tara Palmeri.
Palmeri had been writing a story about his relationship with Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond, according to two sources familiar with the incident.
According to the sources, the confrontation started on Inauguration Day after Palmeri contacted McCammond for comment while a male colleague of hers left a message for Ducklo. However, instead of calling the male reporter back, Ducklo attempted to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story.
"I will destroy you," Ducklo reportedly told Palmeri, saying he would ruin her reputation if she went through with the story. Ducklo also allegedly told Palmeri that she was "jealous" because an unidentified man in the past had "wanted to f---" McCammond "and not you."
An editor from Politico reached out to the White House about Ducklo's threats, bringing about multiple conversations between Politico and senior-level officials. Senior White House officials acknowledged that Ducklo's handling of the call with Palmeri was inappropriate. However, in another conversation, the same White House officials accused Palmeri of breaking an off-the-record agreement with Ducklo.
Ducklo wrote an apology to Palmeri in an email, but he did not apologize for threatening and sexually harassing the reporter.