Michael Caputo, who was appointed spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services in April, and his team have systematically sought to change or alter the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports to fit Trump’s “optimistic” messaging about the coronavirus outbreak.
Politico reports: “Since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed … there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.”
Politico adds: “Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.
Officials from the CDC called the Trump administration’s efforts “an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.”
Business Insider on Caputo’s background: “Caputo is a veteran Republican strategist and communications consultant, who moved to Russia in the 1990s after the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he worked for the US government. He later served as a PR adviser to a subsidiary of Gazprom, a state-owned Russian energy company. In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last December he denied that he had worked as an “image consultant” to Vladimir Putin. Caputo is also a longterm associate of disgraced political strategist Roger Stone, who was found guilty in November of lying to Congress and witness tampering as part of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.”
Caputo erased all of his Twitter history before April 12 around the time of his appointment.
But CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski used the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine to dig up 1,300 of Caputo’s deleted tweets and retweets between late February and early April.
Kaczynski found that Caputo made numerous racist remarks about Chinese people, and pushed conspiracy theories related to COVID-19, including that Democrats wanted millions of people to die, and that the media was creating panic to hurt President Donald Trump.
HHS, headed by Secretary Alex Axar, plays a key role in the the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
CNN reported: In a series of tweets on March 12, Caputo responded to a baseless conspiracy theory that the United States brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, China, by tweeting that ‘millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters.’ He followed up at another user, ‘Don’t you have a bat to eat?’ and tweeted at another user, ‘You’re very convincing, Wang.’ …
“In March, he referred to one White House reporter as “a dick” after that reporter had a heated exchange with the President,” CNN added. “He said many Americans viewed reporters as ‘the enemy of the people’ for ‘carrying water for the Chinese Communist Party.’ He implied that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was guilty of sedition. On March 8, he said a Democrat may try to inflict hundreds of thousands of American deaths from the coronavirus, creating a hypothetical scenario comparable to James Hodgkinson, the anti-Trump man who shot House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise and four others during a Republican congressional baseball game practice in 2017.”