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White House Suspends Press Aide Who Reportedly Threatened Journalist

In this Feb. 9, 2021, photo, White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo listens as press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington.

The White House said on Friday it temporarily suspended a press aide after he reportedly threatened a reporter who was working on a story about his romantic relationship with another journalist.

Vanity Fair reported on Friday that White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo had made threats -- including "I will destroy you" -- to a Politico correspondent who was reporting a piece about Ducklo's recently disclosed relationship with an Axios reporter, Alexi McCammond.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter that Ducklo had been suspended for a week without pay and will not work with Politico reporters again.

Psaki said Ducklo had apologized to the Politico reporter, Tara Palmeri, "with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life. ... He is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the president."

Ducklo, McCammond and Palmeri did not respond to emails seeking comment. An Axios spokesperson said McCammond disclosed the relationship to her editors in November and was reassigned from a beat covering the White House.

The suspension comes after Democratic President Joe Biden, who took office last month, vowed to take a hard line on any incivility among members of his administration.

"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 ... no ifs, ands or buts," Biden told political appointees during a virtual swearing-in ceremony. "Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity."

Psaki told reporters during a briefing on Friday that Biden was not involved in the decision to suspend Ducklo and stressed that the White House took the matter seriously.

Ducklo's behavior was "completely unacceptable. He knows that," Psaki said. "We've had conversations with him. ... This will never happen again."