Enlarge /. Former Trump Campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building on May 1, 2018 to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staff in Washington, DC.
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Michael Caputo – the controversial US Department of Health spokesman who was most recently known for watering down federal reports on COVID-19, railing against social distancing measures and warning of left-wing "hit squads" planning a post. Electoral riot – took a 60-day vacation from the department.
Caputo "decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and family well-being," HHS said on Wednesday in a statement it sent to Ars.
The statement also noted that Caputo's scientific advisor Paul Alexander, who was recently known for blowing his nose on top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, is also on his way out.
Alexander "was hired to temporarily deal with the department," the statement said. "DR. Alexander will be leaving the department," he added briefly.
The descents are no surprise after a few turbulent days. On Monday, Caputo made surprising headlines on a live Facebook video accusing government scientists of "rioting" and claiming that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention housed a "resistance unit". He also warned that left-wing "hit squads" were preparing for an armed uprising after the elections and spoke of long "shadows" in his apartment. He suggested he was personally in danger and said his "mental health has definitely failed".
The point coincided with comments he made on a politically charged HHS podcast on Sept. 11. After spending much of the podcast downplaying COVID-19, he found how he was shaken by the daily work on the pandemic. "I find myself every morning when I use my voice for the first time, I am talking about death," said Caputo. He noted heartbreaking reports from doctors watching their COVID-19 patients die: "The looks on their faces when they die is just something they can't forget. These doctors can't forget. And … that is the first thing I talk about in the morning. "
But Caputo has also pointed out problems with his physical health. At a meeting of emergency staff at HHS on Tuesday apologizing for his comments on government scientists, he reportedly suggested he would take a vacation. And in a text message to a New York Times reporter on Wednesday, he said he would be leaving so he could "get the necessary checkups for a lymph problem."
Caputo's departure takes place after a brief tenure at HHS. He was appointed to the White House in April of that year despite having no background in healthcare. The move was viewed by the White House as an attempt to exercise more control over HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
What about alexander?
Caputo's background is a political actor. He is a protégé of Roger Stone, who served as an advisor to Boris Yeltsin in Moscow and worked in public relations for Vladimir Putin before becoming a Trump loyalist. As such, he relied on Alexander as a scientific advisor who has an epidemiological background.
Alexander is listed as a part-time professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, but the Washington Post reports that the university tried to distance itself from the controversial figure.
“While Paul Alexander with a Ph.D. In McMaster's 2015 Health Research Methods, he does not currently teach and is not paid by the university for his contract role as a part-time assistant, ”Susan Emigh, a McMaster spokeswoman, told the Post. "As a consultant, he does not speak on behalf of McMaster University or the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact."