Trump HHS Aide Caputo Attacks CDC, Warns of Insurrection
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • one week ago • 25 comments
By: Chas Danner (Intelligencer)
Michael Caputo. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Michael Caputo, the former Trump campaign official and Roger Stone associate whom President Trump appointed to be spokesman of the Department of Health and Human Services, spent the weekend defending his efforts to alter the CDC's weekly COVID-19 reports in order to protect the president politically — a defense that included baselessly claiming that scientists at the agency were deep-state agitators bent on taking down the president. The meddling and Caputo's attacks prompted widespread outrage from infectious-disease and public-health experts. Then on Sunday, according to the New York Times , Caputo's paranoid allegations went even further off the deep end.
In a video he posted to his personal Facebook page, Caputo decried the negative attention he was receiving; insisted, "I am not going anywhere"; and claimed that scientists "deep in the bowels of the CDC have given up science and become political animals" who "haven't gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops" to plot "how they're going to attack Donald Trump." The Times reports that Caputo said the agency "was riddled with anti-Trump researchers who 'walk around like they are monks' and 'holy men' but engage in 'rotten science.'"
The political operative, who has no background in health care or science, accused the CDC scientists of "sedition" and made the outrageous allegation — again without any evidence, because there isn't any — that the scientists were deliberately acting against the country's public health as a "resistance unit" within the agency.
"There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president," Caputo reportedly warned, adding that, "to allow people to die so that you can replace the president is a grievous venial sin, venial sin. And these people are all going to hell."
Furthermore, Caputo predicted an armed insurrection against President Trump, suggesting he himself might become a target and casualty. "You understand that they're going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that's where this is going," the 58-year-old told his Facebook followers, also noting that his "mental health has definitely failed":
"I don't like being alone in Washington," he said, describing "shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long." He then built a crescendo of conspiracy theories, culminating in a prediction that Mr. Trump will win re-election but his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will refuse to concede.
"And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin," he said. "The drills that you've seen are nothing." He added: "If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it's going to be hard to get."
Caputo also endorsed the baseless conspiracy theory that left-wing groups like antifa were already plotting a revolt and targeting Trump supporters, citing the recent shooting of a far-right activist and Trump supporter by an antifa supporter at a rally in Portland, Oregon:
"Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed?" he said. "That was a drill."
The man suspected of the shooting, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was later shot dead by officers from a federally led fugitive task force in Washington State. He "went down fighting," Mr. Caputo said. "Why? Because he couldn't say what he had inside him." He then spoke of "squads being trained all over this country" — a conspiracy theory unsupported by evidence.
In response to the story about Caputo's comments, HHS sent a statement to the Times insisting that "Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president's coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic." In his own response, Caputo claimed that:
"Since joining the administration my family and I have been continually threatened" and harassed by people who have later been prosecuted. "This weighs heavily on us, and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe."
The embattled Trump aide also appears to have taken down his Twitter account:
This post has been updated to include additional reporting.