A former Trump campaign official, now a spokesperson for the US Department of Health, has sought to change key reports on the coronavirus pandemic, in some cases complaining “openly” that they “will undermine the optimistic messages of the president on the epidemic, ”according to internal emails viewed by Politico.
The official, Michael Caputo, told the website he was trying to thwart “the subsequent deep state motives in the bowels” of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
The news comes after reports that a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower said he was told to stop making Donald Trump “look bad”, via reports of Russian election interference.
This is also a new book by Bob Woodward details the president’s reasoning behind the optimistic messages about the coronavirus outbreak.
“I always wanted to play it down,” Trump told Woodward in March, more than a month after telling him the virus was “deadly.”
“I always like to minimize it because I don’t want to cause panic.”
Trump’s comments – and Woodward’s decision to keep them for his book – sparked an uproar. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, 6.4 million people have been infected in the United States and more than 192,000 have died. Other charges kill more than 200,000.
Caputo, who became a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services in April, is a Republican consultant who worked on the Trump campaign in 2015 and 2016. He has ties to Russia, having worked in the energy industry of country, and with Roger Stone, a Trump ally whose sentence resulting from the Russia inquiry was commuted by the president.
Politico reported that under Caputo’s leadership, the CDC’s weekly Morbidity and Mortality Reports have been the subject of “substantial efforts to align … with Trump’s statements, including the President’s claims that fears about the epidemic are exaggerated, or to stop the reports altogether ”.
“Caputo and his team attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings,” the website said, “including an effort to retroactively amend reports from agencies that they believe wrongly inflated Covid risks -19 and should have made it clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected due to its own behavior. “
A report that Caputo’s team tried to stop, the website said, involved hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that Trump and his senior collaborators pushed for use in the treatment of Covid-19, but which, according to studies, can be dangerous. The report was released last week, after being detained for a month because the political views of its authors were in question.
In an August email seen by Politico, another politician named accused the CDC of writing “hit pieces about the administration” and trying to “hurt the president”.
Caputo told the website: “Buried in this good [CDC] the works are sometimes stories that seem to deliberately mislead and undermine the president’s Covid response with what some scientists call poor scholarship – and others call politics disguised as science.
He also said, “Our intention is to make sure that there is evidence, scientific data guiding policy through this pandemic – not deep state motives in the bowels of the CDC.”
The “deep state” conspiracy theory, enthusiastically proposed by the president and key aides, argues that a permanent government of bureaucrats and intelligence officials exists to thwart Trump’s agenda.
Trump recently claimed that the “deep state” was responsible for the delay in approval by the Food and Drug Administration for unproven Covid therapies.
Steve Bannon, former Trump campaign manager and White House strategist now indicted for fraud, was one of the early key supporters of the “deep state” theory.
He said publicly that it was “for the nut cases” and that “none of this is true”.