Politics

HHS Spokesman Caputo To Take Leave Of Absence After Reportedly Accusing Government Scientists Of Conspiring Against Trump

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in a statement Wednesday that the department’s top spokesman, Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Michael Caputo, would be taking a leave of absence days after he accused government scientists of “sedition” in a now-deleted video posted on his personal Facebook page Sunday.

An HHS statement released Monday said that Caputo would take a leave of absence for 60 days “to focus on his health and the well-being of his family.” HHS also announced that Caputo’s senior policy adviser Paul Alexander would be leaving the department as well.

In a statement released Wednesday, Caputo said he was taking a “temporary medical leave of absence” after a lymphatic issue was discovered last week. Caputo added that he had failed to visit a doctor because of his work in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

His statement did not address the video remarks he made over the weekend. Instead, Caputo expressed his support for the White House Coronavirus Task Force and infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci.

Caputo had previously alleged that a “resistance unit” within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was plotting to “attack” the president in streamed remarks uploaded to Facebook, The New York Times reported. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president,” he said.

He also said that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would refuse to concede and warned that “the shooting will begin” if Trump is re-elected. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he told viewers, according to The New York Times.

Caputo is a longtime ally of the president and was appointed to his post in April. HHS described him as “a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response” in a statement to The New York Times. (RELATED: Former Trump Aide Provides Proof After Being Criticized For Black Lives Matter Riot Comment)

Caputo was also mentioned in recent reports of alleged political interference within the CDC after public health specialists claimed HHS communications officials were meddling in agency studies related to the coronavirus, CNBC reported. He said in a statement to CNBC that there were “ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC.”

During his video remarks Sunday, Caputo admitted that his “mental health has definitely failed” due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has thus far killed more than 194,000 Americans, The New York Times reported. “I don’t want to talk about death anymore,” he reportedly said in the video.

Caputo said in a Monday statement to CNN that he and his family “have been continually threatened” since he joined the administration, adding that he was “dealing with harassment prosecutions” in criminal court.

“This weighs heavily on us and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe,” he told CNN.

Caputo reportedly apologized to his staff during an HHS meeting Tuesday for the comments he made over the weekend, two people familiar with the meeting told The Washington Post.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to comment further about Caputo’s leave of absence during a press briefing Wednesday.