Michael Caputo, assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, claimed Sunday that there is a “resistance unit” of “seditious” government scientists at the CDC working to undermine President Donald Trump.
They “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump,” Caputo added. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”
He made the claims, as recorded by the New York Times, in a histrionic Facebook livestream where he additionally claimed that his own life is at risk.
“You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” he told his followers, building into a dramatic tangent about the “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.”
Caputo told the Times that his family had been “continually threatened” since he joined the administration in April. He did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions. Caputo has been a vocal Trump loyalist for years, and has no background in health care.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced Caputo’s attempts to massage weekly bulletins from the CDC — critical public health updates called Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports — to fit Trump’s insistence that the COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding. The reports, meant mostly for scientists and public health officials, are traditionally guarded as wholly apolitical and kept from political appointees until just before publication.
Caputo was reportedly helped in these efforts by Paul Alexander, an assistant professor Caputo hired to assist him with pandemic-related matters, who has reportedly called the MMWRs “hit pieces on the administration.” The two recently tried to stop the publication of a report on the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment Trump has heralded as a COVID-19 cure-all. Alexander has called for a complete stop in MMWR publishing until the process is amended so “someone outside of CDC like myself” can review the reports.
The House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus announced Monday that they’re investigating the interference with the reports.
In his livestream, Caputo also dipped into conspiracy theorizing about Trump winning reelection, but former Vice President Joe Biden refusing 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 said, adding, “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
Caputo, using language most often found in the fever swamps of QAnon messaging boards, has also been retweeting baseless conspiracies theorizing about the supposed coming insurrection.
Caputo deleted his Twitter account Monday afternoon.