White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday deflected when asked about a report that alleged abusive behavior by a top aide to first lady Jill Biden, saying it’s “hard to look into” the allegations because the claims were made anonymously.
Anthony Bernal was accused of a “mean streak” in a Politico report that alleged it’s common knowledge that he makes colleagues cry while controlling access to the first lady.
“You know, it’s hard to look into anonymously sourced reports. I’m not aware of that being the intention,” Psaki told reporters at her daily press briefing.
Bernal has a habit of “berating” people and trashes his “stupid” coworkers behind their backs, according to the report.
President Biden said in January that he would fire aides “on the spot” if he hears they “treat another colleague with disrespect or talk down to someone.” But he hasn’t always lived up to that pledge. For example, Biden initially stood by spokesman TJ Ducklo in February when he made derisive remarks toward a female reporter.
Psaki was asked Tuesday by New York Times reporter Katie Rogers about the alleged “abusive” conduct by Bernal. Rogers noted that “the report was based on anonymous sourcing.”
“You know I love anonymous sources,” Psaki joked.
Rogers added, “Right, but I’m wondering if, given this administration has its edict about treating people with kindness and respect — is this report, even though anonymously sourced, going to be looked into?”
Psaki said that in addition to the report being “hard to look into,” she has had pleasant experiences with Bernal.
“I’ve worked with him now over the last six months, even as a newbie into the Biden orbit, the individual named by anonymous source [sic]. He has been nothing but supportive and communicative and that’s been my experience,” Psaki said.
The White House previously was put in a tough spot when Ducklo lashed out at Politico Playbook co-author Tara Palmeri for helping work on an article about his relationship with then-Axios reporter Alexi McCammond.
Ducklo allegedly told Palmeri that he would “destroy” her for reporting on the apparent conflict of interest. Ducklo allegedly told Palmeri that she was just “jealous” that another man had “wanted to f–k” McCammond “and not you.”
Rather than immediately punish Ducklo, top White House press officers allegedly slammed Palmeri to her editors for relaying Ducklo’s abuse. After Ducklo’s conduct was revealed publicly, the White House initially stood by him and announced a brief suspension. He later resigned.