WASHINGTON (CN) — Michael Caputo, the top spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, plans to take a two-month leave of absence, the department announced Wednesday, following Caputo’s apology for a conspiracy theory-charged rant targeting career government scientists and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is announcing that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo has decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and the well-being of his family. Mr. Caputo will be on leave for the next 60 days,” HHS said in a statement.
Caputo had apologized a day earlier for having accused Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists of “sedition,” claiming without evidence Sunday that the key federal health agency has a "resistance unit" operating against President Donald Trump.
Trump appointed Caputo, a former campaign aide, to manage communications at HHS earlier this year. The move appeared to be aimed at bringing the agency’s message on the pandemic in line with that of the president, who has continuously downplayed the coronavirus outbreak.
A fierce defender of the president, Caputo railed against “the deep state scientists” in the live video he posted Sunday on Facebook.
"The partisan Democrats, the conjugal media, and the scientists, the deep state scientists want America sick through November,” Caputo said. “They cannot afford for us to have any good news before November because they’re already losing.”
He claimed without providing evidence or naming officials that there are government scientists working on the pandemic response “who do not want America to get better” until after Biden wins the November election.
"These people cannot, cannot allow America to get better. Nor can they allow America to hear good news. It must be all bad news from now until the election. Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, that's sedition," Caputo said.
He then added: "They are sacrificing lives in order to defeat Donald Trump. Ladies and gentlemen, that's sedition. It's also ... you know, call it what you will, but when they let somebody get sick and die, there's one word for that.”
As to Biden, Caputo claimed the former vice president would not concede the upcoming election if Trump wins.
He said “the shooting will begin” when Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, and encouraged Americans who carry guns to stock up on ammunition “because it’s going to be hard to get.”
Saying his "mental health has definitely failed,” Caputo appeared distressed in the video but said he would not leave HHS unless asked to by the president.
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