Days after accusing government scientists of engaging in sedition, Michael Caputo, the top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is taking a leave of absence.
In a statement obtained by The Hill, the department said Caputo would take a leave from his position for 60 days to focus on “his health and the well-being of his family.”
Caputo, who was appointed to the position in April, has been facing backlash for comments he made in a Facebook Live video he filmed on Sept. 13, as IJR reported.
In that video, Caputo ripped into government scientists and claimed that they “do not want America to get well” from COVID-19 until “Joe Biden is president.”
He also claimed without evidence that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a “resistance unit” designed to undermine President Donald Trump.
Trump has also previously alleged on Twitter that “deep state” employees were intentionally slow-walking the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
However, Caputo’s video included even wilder suggestions as he claimed there are “hit squads being trained all over this country.” He also said that the shooting of a Trump supporter in Portland, Oregon, last month was “just a drill.”
The New York Times first reported on Caputo’s video, and HHS gave the paper a statement that said he is “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.”
Caputo also told the Times that since he joined HHS, his family has “been continually threatened.”
On Tuesday, Politico reported that Caputo called an emergency staff meeting where he apologized for his comments and said he felt that the reflected poorly on the department.
During the meeting, he blamed his comments on physical health issues and stress following death threats his family has received.
The outlet noted that HHS employees who were at the meeting believed Caputo might leave his position.