Michael Caputo, 58, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, said without evidence that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump.
Mr. Caputo, who has faced criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger.
“You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo, a Trump loyalist installed by the White House in April, told followers in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page. Mr. Caputo has 5,000 Facebook friends, and the video has been viewed more than 850 times. It has been shared by 44 followers.
This attack of paranoia appears to have been brought on by the news reports of Caputo’s political editing of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
Those reports, deemed “the holiest of the holy” by one former top health official for their international respect and importance, have traditionally been so shielded from political interference that political appointees see them only just before they are published.
Mr. Caputo on Sunday complained on Facebook that he was under siege by the media and said that his physical health was in question and his “mental health has definitely failed.”
I can’t argue with that last part.
“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” he said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He then ran through a series of conspiracy theories, culminating in a prediction that Mr. Trump will win re-election but his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will refuse to concede.
“And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.” He added: “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
Funny; most people I know are worried that when Biden loses Trump won’t leave the White House, and caravans of armed white guys wearing MAGA hats will be doing the shooting. So which side is crazy?
But do keep in mind, this is the guy who is controlling what we learn from the CDC.
Everyone is understandably aghast at all this. But how far afield is it from what we hear regularly from that guy who happens to be the president of the United States?
In an important respect, Caputo’s rantings are just a more lurid version of what President Trump himself says constantly — that the political opposition to Trump is at its core fundamentally illegitimate and, indeed, that there is no legitimate way for Trump to be removed from power.
Mary Pappenfuss at Huffpost dug up some more background on Caputo.
Caputo, who lived in Russia for six years, was an adviser to Boris Yeltsin from 1995 to 1999 and helped him get elected as president. He also served as an adviser to a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Gazprom, and reportedly helped shore up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputation.
Caputo’s Kremlin ties were so concerning that he became a target of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was questioned but was not charged with any offenses. He also testified before the House Intelligence Committee that he had no contact with Russians while serving on the Trump campaign.
Caputo has attempted to scrub his links to Russia in his Wikipedia bio — and insisted in an interview that his work doesn’t make him a “Putin stooge.” He told his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News, that “at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.”
Caputo also has many ties to Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, Pappenfuss writes. Did I mention that Caputo is controlling information about the covid pandemic coming out of the CDC?
A series of high profile, former Obama administration officials and two former solicitors general have joined the Biden campaign to work on his “special litigation” unit, essentially a task force designed to protect the election. The move comes as President Trump increasingly signals he not only won’t accept election results that don’t keep him in the White House, but also fans baseless voter fraud flames as vote-by-mail is expanded to protect Americans from COVID-19 spread. The news comes just as Trump over the weekend had a tweet flagged for misinformation when he tweeted encouraging voters to vote twice — both via mail and in-person — which is illegal.
Oh, legal shmegal. We’re talking about Trump, who recently held an illegal indoor rally in Nevada, in front of a tightly packed and mostly maskless crowd, where he boasted of his support for law and order and his deft handling of the pandemic. Interfacing with reality ain’t Trump’s strong suit, either.
Stuff to Read
Philip Bump, WaPo, The egregious gaslighting around Trump’s handling of the pandemic
Fred Kaplan, Slate, Trump’s Rage Is Worse Than You Heard