Trump-appointed Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo, amid charges he pressured scientists at the Centers for Disease Control to change public information on coronavirus, made a series of bizarre, paranoid claims on Facebook over the weekend, according to the New York Times.
On Sunday, September 13, Caputo on his personal Facebook page warned of leftist murder squads and suggested he may soon be murdered, the New York Times reported.
The video came days after a bombshell Politico article reporting that Caputo and other Trump appointees pressured CDC officials and changed coronavirus reports to make them more closely reflect Trump’s messaging.
Here’s what you need to know:
Caputo Said, ‘You Understand That They’re Going to Have to Kill Me’ & Told His Followers to ‘Buy Ammunition’ in a Facebook Live Video Sunday
According to the Times report, Caputo broadcast on Facebook Live on Sunday a bizarre, paranoid message that was viewed more than 850 times.
In the video, Caputo said, “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” according to the Times.” Caputo also described “shadows” on the ceiling of his Washington, D.C. apartment and predicted that if former Vice President Joe Biden loses the election, “the shooting will begin.”
“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 alleged that forces within DHHS were committing “sedition” to undermine Trump’s political fortunes; he called them a “resistance unit.” Also, he claimed that “hit squads were being trained all over the country,” while alluding to Michael Forest Reinoehl, the suspect in a fatal Portland shooting who was later killed by U.S. Marshals.
Twitter users reacted with concern to the Times story.
MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller said Caputo “most definitely shouldn’t be in a position of authority in the government.”
“I hope the people responsible for his security clearance (yes, senior HHS officials have them) take his words in this piece seriously.”
Former Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee Advisor Zac Petkanas said the story revealed “what a fruitcake Michael Caputo is.”
As of Monday afternoon, Caputo had deleted his personal Twitter account after a reported series of similarly unhinged tweets about racial justice protesters, including one using misogynistic language.
Heavy reached out to DHHS for comment on Caputo’s recent claims, but did not immediately hear back.
House Democrats Announced Monday That They Would Investigate Claims Caputo & Others Sought to Muzzle or Censor CDC Coronavirus Reports
House Democrats announced Monday in a letter to DHHS Secretary Alex Azar — another nominee who is close with Trump — that they would investigate many of the claims made in the Politico report.
Representative James Clyburn, Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus, told Azar in the letter that the committee was “gravely concerned by reports showing that the president’s political appointees at HHS have sought to help him downplay the risks of the coronavirus crisis by attempting to alter, delay and block critical scientific reports from CDC.”
Caputo told Politico that he was being advised by a scientist whose views often diverged from those at the CDC.
“Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic — not ulterior deep-state motives in the bowels of the CDC,” he said.
On his official DHHS Twitter account on September 9, Caputo also pushed back on the allegations of politically-motivated changes to CDC reports.
The House committee is seeking transcribed interviews with nine officials, including Caputo, as well as related documents like weekly mortality and morbidity reports.
“Blatant political interference in CDC’s reports on the coronavirus outbreak appears to be just one element in the Trump administration’s all-out strategy to, in the president’s words, ‘play it down,'” Clyburn wrote.