CORONA WATCH--Michael Caputo, the politically appointed assistant secretary of public affairs for the nation’s health department, has reportedly apologized to the health secretary and his staff after accusing government scientists fighting the coronavirus pandemic of having a “resistance unit” and plotting to undermine President Donald Trump.
Caputo’s apology to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday, as reported by several media outlets citing sources familiar with the situation, followed him spewing disturbing conspiracy theories in a live Facebook video on Sunday about the upcoming presidential election and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s efforts to fight COVID-19.
“There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until Joe Biden is president,” he said, without providing any supporting evidence, according to copies of the video shared by various news outlets.
Mark Wilson via Getty Images Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, was appointed as assistant secretary of public affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services in April.
Politico reported last week that Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, has been pressuring the CDC to change its COVID-19 reports so that the information reflects better on the president.
At one point in the video, Caputo encourages Trump supporters to buy ammunition for their guns, fearing that Biden will not accept the November election results.
“I’m not going anywhere. They’re going to have to kill me and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” he says.
With his apology on Tuesday during an emergency staff meeting, Caputo shared that he is considering taking a leave of absence to address physical health problems, The New York Times reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.
Caputo mentioned in his video that he has been physically and mentally unwell and that he “really wants to leave” the health department.
“Obviously, some of those statements are concerning,” Azar told The Tennesseean on Tuesday when asked about Caputo’s comments. “I’m not going to comment on somebody’s personal social media posts.”
Caputo was appointed to his role in April. He has no medical or scientific background and his online profile on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website brands him as a “film maker, an author and a media commentator.”
It’s not clear what, if any, repercussions the video may have on Caputo’s career with the health department.
(Nina Golgowski writes for HuffPost.com … where this piece was first posted.)