After ranting about armed rebellion, high Well being Dept. spokesperson takes go away

A man in a suit walks through an out-of-focus office building.

Enlarge / Former Trump marketing campaign official Michael Caputo arrives on the Hart Senate Workplace constructing to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on Might 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit score: Getty | Mark Wilson)

Michael Caputo—the controversial spokesperson for the US Division of Well being and Human Companies, most just lately identified for watering down federal stories on COVID-19, railing in opposition to social distancing measures, and warning of left-wing “hit-squads” planning a post-election rebel—has taken a 60-day go away of absence from the division.

Caputo “determined to take a go away of absence to give attention to his well being and the well-being of his household,” the HHS mentioned Wednesday in a press release despatched to Ars.

The assertion additionally famous that Caputo’s scientific advisor, Paul Alexander—identified just lately for attempting to muzzle high infectious illness knowledgeable Anthony Fauci—can be on his method out.

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Bonkers federal podcast downplays COVID-19, blasts well being restrictions

Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Former Trump marketing campaign official Michael Caputo arrives on the Hart Senate Workplace constructing to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on Might 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit score: Getty | Mark Wilson)

In a surprising podcast launched by the Division of Well being and Human Companies, two high officers on the division repeatedly downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, railed towards mitigation efforts, referred to as closures of in-person education “nonsense,” and mentioned US journalists don’t “[give] a rattling about public well being data.”

The podcast, launched on the HHS web site September 11, is a part of a sequence hosted by Michael Caputo, who presently holds the title of HHS assistant secretary of public affairs. Although Caputo has no background in well being care, the White Home put in him within the division in April—a transfer reportedly made to claim extra White Home management over HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Caputo is a longtime Trump loyalist and former marketing campaign official. He obtained his begin as a protégé of Roger Stone and later labored as a Moscow-based advisor to Boris Yeltsin and did public relations work for Vladimir Putin.

Studying curve

Caputo has most just lately made headlines for working to intervene with and alter scientific experiences on COVID-19 ready by researchers on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. The meddling was supposed to make experiences extra consistent with messaging from Trump, who has admitted to downplaying the pandemic. Caputo additionally raised eyebrows with a Fb dwell video, reported by The New York Instances Monday, wherein, with out proof, he accused authorities scientists of partaking in “sedition” and claimed that the CDC is harboring a “resistance unit.” He additionally spoke of lengthy “shadows” in his DC condo and mentioned left-wing “hit-squads” had been making ready for armed revolt after the election.

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