Michael Caputo was appointed last week as the new spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and he is already involved in controversy over a series of deleted tweets. On April 15, Alex Azar, the HHS secretary, confirmed the new appointment on Twitter.
Caputo has a long history in politics as a Republican. The 58-year-old worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and served as an adviser in the Reagan administration and a campaign adviser for George H.W. Bush.
Caputo’s current official role is the assistant secretary for public affairs, and he serves as the department’s spokesperson. However, controversial tweets and retweets that Caputo deleted prior to his appointment announcement have surfaced after a CNN report.
Here’s what you need to know about Michael Caputo:
1. CNN Uncovered Caputo’s Deleted Tweets From February to Early April
CNN used the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to review 1,300 of Caputo’s deleted tweets and retweets that span between February and April. The news outlet shared the tweets via text in their report. A few examples are:
On March 8, Caputo retweeted a tweet from Nick Searcy that read, “Democrats are pulling for the virus to kill a lot of people.”
On March 12, Caputo responded to a conspiracy theory that the United States brought coronavirus to Wuhan by tweeting, “Sure, millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the a** out of anteaters but some foreigner snuck in a bottle of the good stuff. That’s it.”
On March 14, the HHS spokesperson tweeted: “100s of thousands must die and the US economy must collapse for the Democrat 2020 victory strategy to succeed. They’re getting so excited for the carnage. Sick people.”
He stated “of course he has” when responding to Trump being proactive. He also said, “This Democrat strategy, echoed by their conjugal media, will fail. Hoping your country fails and hundreds of thousands die so you can gain power is a sick and twisted strategy. America will punish them.”
2. He Resigned From the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign After He Made a Controversial Comment About Corey Lewandowski
Caputo started working for Trump’s presidential campaign in November 2015 and he resigned in June 2016, CNN reported. He resigned after making a controversial comment aimed at Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager.
He tweeted, “Ding Dong the witch is dead” after Lewandowski was reportedly fired. Caputo resigned from his communications position hours after publishing the tweet.
According to the CNN report, in a letter Caputo sent to Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, he said, “I regret sending out a tweet today alluding to the firing of Corey Lewandowski. In hindsight, that was too exuberant a reaction to this personnel move. I know this is a distraction from the kind of campaign you want to run, so I’m resigning my position as director of communications for caucus operations at the 2016 Republican Convention.”
According to a report from Yahoo, Caputo was actually fired by the Trump campaign, but Caputo refuted the claim.
3. Trump & Caputo Have Been Acquaintances Since 2013 & He Is Said to Be Friends With Roger Stone
Caputo and Trump have been acquaintances since 2013, a few years before Trump decided to enter politics. The two men met when Trump was considering running for the governor of New York, according to CNN.
Caputo is also a longtime friend of Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump. On February 20, Stone was convicted of seven counts, including five counts of lying to Congress during the Mueller investigation. He was sentenced to 40 months in jail.
The move to appoint Caputo as the assistant secretary for public affairs for the HHS is seen as a play to insert more control over HHS secretary Alex Azar, POLITICO reported.
4. Caputo Lived in Russia & Worked as an Adviser for Boris Yeltsin
Caputo moved to Russia in 1994. While living in the country, he worked for the United States Agency for International Development and worked as an adviser for former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
From 1994 to 1999, Caputo was the president of The Florence Group, an organization that “played a pivotal role in electing Boris Yeltsin to his second term as President of the Russian Federation,” Washington Monthly reported.
In 2000, Caputo returned to the United States and worked as an adviser for the state-owned Russian conglomerate Gazprom, according to CBS News. He was tasked to bolster Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image in the United States.
According to the report, Caputo said: “I’m not proud of the work today, but at the time, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.”
5. Caputo Was Born in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina & Received a Degree in New York
Caputo was born March 24, 1962, in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. During his upbringing, he was raised in small towns in Ohio, as well as upstate New York. After graduating high school, Caputo joined the military and he left the United States Army in 1983.
Caputo received a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in foreign affairs and journalism, from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Caputo wrote the book The Ukraine Hoax, which is about “How decades of corruption in the former Soviet Republic led to Trump’s Phony Impeachment.”
He is currently married to his second wife Maryna Ponomarenko, and he has three children.