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Apology, no firing: Official said US scientists hurt Trump

SeattlePI.com Tuesday, 15 September 2020 ()
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Trump health appointee who is accused of trying to muzzle an important scientific report in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic apologized Tuesday for a separate video in which he reportedly says scientists battling the virus are conspiring against President Donald Trump and warns of shooting in America if Trump loses the election.

Michael Caputo, the top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, apologized to his staff for the Facebook video, said an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The department is standing by Caputo so far in the face of calls by congressional democrats for his dismissal — and also for the resignation of his boss, HHS Secretary Alex Azar. But Caputo, a Trump loyalist and former New York political operative, has become a significant new problem for a White House that has struggled all year with its coronavirus response.

He can be heard on an HHS podcast asserting that Democrats don't want a coronavirus vaccine before the election in order to punish Trump. Trump has made the same assertion, with no evidence to support it, but such broadsides are not in a department spokesman's normal portfolio.

News reports alleged last week that Caputo's office tried to take over and muzzle a scientific weekly published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that publishes what is supposed to be authoritative, unvarnished information about disease-fighting efforts, including, most importantly at present, COVID-19.

Then on Monday came an account of the video on Caputo’s personal Facebook page in which he accused government scientists of conspiring against Trump and suggested violence could break out after the election.

Caputo was named the top HHS spokesman in April, during a tense period in relations...
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Video Credit: KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas - Published
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