Michael Caputo, a fierce supporter of Trump who was appointed to the agency earlier this year by the president, made the accusations in a live video hosted on his personal Facebook page, which – along with his Twitter account – has been disabled at some point. following the Sunday diatribe. Caputo confirmed comments he made during the video, which were first reported by The New York Times, to CNN on Monday.
The live video followed criticism in response to reports that Trump-appointed HHS communications officials pushed to change the language of weekly U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documents and that Caputo, the secretary public affairs assistant, had demanded to see the documents before they could be seen. released. This effort has alarmed agency officials who see the move as political.
In Sunday’s video, Caputo mentioned a series of conspiracy theories and predicted that Trump would win re-election but his Democratic opponent Joe Biden would not concede, which Caputo said would lead to political violence.
“And when Donald Trump refuses to step down at the inauguration, filming will begin,” he said. “The exercises you saw are nothing. He also added: “If you carry arms, buy ammunition ladies and gentlemen, because it will be difficult to obtain. “
“I don’t want to talk about death anymore,” he said in the video, adding, “You don’t wake up every morning and talk about dead Americans.”
Caputo said in a statement to CNN on Monday that since joining the administration, “my family and I have been continually threatened and in and out of the criminal court charged with harassment charges.”
“It weighs heavily on us and we deeply appreciate President Trump’s friendship and support as we address these issues and keep our children safe,” he said.
Caputo declined to discuss the matter further in a brief telephone interview with CNN later Monday, except to say he made the comments as he was facing some of the pressure the harassment caused on himself. and his family over the past few days. He added that the harassment included what he considered to be death threats.
The HHS told The Times in a statement that Caputo “is an essential and integral part of the president’s response to coronaviruses, leading to public messages as Americans need public health information to beat the Covid-19 pandemic “.
During his stint, Caputo took aim at the CDC, claiming without evidence that scientists “deep in the bowels of the CDC have given up science and become political animals.”
Scientists “haven’t taken out of their sweatpants except for meetings in cafes” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Caputo said.
Amid tensions between the administration and the CDC, a federal health official told CNN over the weekend that some federal health officials at the CDC believe interference with weekly science reports is an effort. to modify the communications of the scientists of the agency so as not to contradict. President. Since the start of the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the importance of the virus, sometimes contradicting doctors on his own White House task force.
The revelations of the involvement of HHS officials marked the latest example of political interference by administration appointees in health agencies across the country.
Caputo also made reference to a contract he oversees between HHS and a marketing company running a coronavirus campaign. CNN previously reported that the contract, which was announced over the summer to help the administration “overcome desperation and inspire hope” around the coronavirus, according to the performance discussion paper sent to companies from communication, was valued at $ 250 million.
During Sunday’s video, Caputo said he expected to stay in his post because the president was backing him.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Caputo said in the video. “I swear to God, as God is my witness, I do not stop. ”
Caputo has a habit of making inflammatory remarks on social media. CNN’s KFile reported earlier this year that he made racist and derogatory comments about the Chinese people, accused Democrats of wanting the coronavirus to kill millions of people and accused the media of intentionally creating panic around the pandemic to hurt Trump in a series of now-deleted tweets.
Caputo also made a series of rude and sexist comments toward women in a series of now-deleted tweets.
This story was updated with additional comments from Caputo to CNN on Monday.
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Nathan McDermott and Em Steck contributed to this report.