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Biden speaking to reporters. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo has been placed on one-week suspension without pay after Vanity Fair reported that he threatened to ruin the reputation of a Politico reporter pursuing a story about his relationship with an Axios reporter.

Why it matters: It's an early test of how President Biden disciplines White House staff after four years of the Trump administration's adversarial relationship with the press. Biden warned on his first day in the White House: "I am not joking when I say this: 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. No ifs, ands, or buts."

What they're saying: "TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, 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," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

  • "In addition to his initial apology, he has sent the reporter a personal note expressing his profound regret," she continued.
  • "With the approval of the White House Chief of Staff, he has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico."

Context: Politico reported on Ducklo's relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond in its Playbook newsletter earlier this week.

  • An Axios spokesperson told Politico: “Alexi disclosed her relationship with TJ to her editors in November and asked to be taken off of the Biden beat. We reassigned her to cover progressives in Congress, the progressive movement, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Alexi is a valued member of the Axios team, and we stand behind her and her coverage.”

Go deeper

Feb 11, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi

On the next episode of “Axios on HBO”, Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond interviews Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi. 

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, February 14 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.

White House urged to disclose virtual "visitors"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Political transparency groups are asking the White House to disclose information about the people who participate in virtual White House meetings, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: President Biden has committed to releasing White House visitor logs on a quarterly basis. But good-government advocates say disclosure of in-person meetings isn't sufficient with COVID forcing so much remote work via teleconference.

29 mins ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.