A top official at the nation’s health department spread false conspiracies about the Centers for Disease Control in a Facebook Live on Sunday, baselessly accusing government scientists of having a “resistance unit” and plotting “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump,” reported The New York Times.
Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, is a former Trump campaign official who has no medical background. He was appointed to his role in April.
In a live video on his personal Facebook page, Caputo also reportedly predicted that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would not accept the election results. When Trump “refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” Caputo said, recommending that people who own guns “buy ammunition.”
Caputo’s comments came days after a Politico report that his communications team at the health department had demanded to review the CDC’s regular reports on the coronavirus pandemic, and even pressured the agency to change the wording on some reports. One email from a Caputo aide reportedly accused the CDC of trying to “hurt the President” and “writing hit pieces on the administration.”
The White House and health department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The department told the Times in a statement that Caputo was a “critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.”
House Democrats are now investigating “efforts by political appointees” at the health department to “block the publication of accurate scientific reports” by the CDC, per Politico.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with over 6.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 194,000 dead so far.