A top Trump Administration figure, Michael Caputo, is drawing wide criticism after suggesting over the weekend that Democrats are planning an armed left-wing revolt in response to Trump refusing to leave the White House in the event that Joe Biden loses but refuses to concede.
Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services installed by Trump in April, also accused career scientists and CDC figures of "sedition" for their handling of the pandemic.
The comments came during a Facebook Live appearance Caputo gave on Sunday.
A top Trump health aide, without evidence, accused government scientists of “sedition." He also warned of a left-wing revolt after the election. https://t.co/aVLRifkfs7
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 14, 2020
Caputo's Facebook Live appearance was full of baseless and unhinged claims about the upcoming election and the CDC's handling of the pandemic.
Claiming that the CDC harbors a "resistance unit" aiming to undermine President Trump, Caputo implied that the non-existent unit was also plotting to kill him in order to get to the President.
"You understand that they're going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that's where this is going."
Caputo then claimed that the ultimate outcome of this move against the President will culminate with Biden refusing to concede the election when he loses, and that armed squads of Democrats will seek to avenge his electoral loss.
"And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin. The drills that you've seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it's going to be hard to get."
It is unclear to what Caputo's claim of "drills" was referring.
Caputo's bizarre claims come in the wake of a wave of news reports detailing the ways Caputo and his team have interfered with the CDC and its efforts at combating the pandemic.
Former and current CDC figures have claimed that Caputo and one of his primary aides have routinely insisted on revisions and delays to the CDC's "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports," its primary bulletin that alerts the public to public health issues, because its data undermined President Trump's messaging that he had the pandemic under control.
Caputo claimed that the media scrutiny from these reports is destroying his mental health
"I don't like being alone in Washington... [The] shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long."
His comments come as Trump has repeatedly attempted to cast federal government scientists as trying to undermine his efforts to fight the pandemic for political reasons, baseless accusations that Caputo echoed on Facebook.
"[The scientists] haven't gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops [to plot] how they're going to attack Donald Trump next. There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president."
On Twitter, many people were mortified by Caputo's unhinged claims.
Profoundly misunderstanding the word "venial" (while repeating it for emphasis!) is really the least of the problems here, I know, but I admit that's the part that I can't get unstuck from my craw.
This government is genuinely insane. Genuinely nuts.https://t.co/pF1XsIfXZV
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) September 14, 2020
this... this is bad https://t.co/kIaklmEbdt pic.twitter.com/SEbP0axv2i
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) September 14, 2020
This man is being paid with your tax dollars: Trump Health Aide Alleges Broad Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt https://t.co/0OP4CE44lN
— John Avlon (@JohnAvlon) September 14, 2020
Trump DHS appointee Michael Caputo spun conspiracy theories about left-wing hit squads being trained for insurrection and accused CDC scientists of “sedition" on Facebook Live last night.
Caputo is a former Kremlin advisor.https://t.co/xEbaxoSz8O
— Leah McElrath 🏳️🌈 (@leahmcelrath) September 14, 2020
What on earth https://t.co/eHLFjSVmSA pic.twitter.com/qDpx6WxWcB
— David Enrich (@davidenrich) September 14, 2020
And some legitimately wondered about Caputo's mental state.
This is an incredibly dangerous situation as a policy matter, but the quotes here sound more like someone who desperately needs help in a personal capacity away from the spotlight https://t.co/4iOVcdebw1
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) September 14, 2020
The top comms staffer at HHS accused CDC civil servants of planning to kill him and undermine the president, predicted that the president's re-election would lead to a violent uprising, & rambled paranoically about "shadows on the ceiling in my apartment." https://t.co/GlGHFNmtEB pic.twitter.com/X5LxLaA1jF
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) September 14, 2020
Creeping paranoia is the result of self-generated conspiracy theories. https://t.co/4uBrMPPSLn
— Rick Tyler-Still Right (@rickwtyler) September 14, 2020
THIS. IS. CRAZY. The only truthful thing this wingnut @SpoxHHS says here is that his “mental health has definitely failed." Word: Trump Health Aide Alleges Broad Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt https://t.co/jzqnt5elzP
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) September 14, 2020
Others sounded warning bells about Caputo's comments indicating how deeply conspiracy theories, and the incitements to violence they frequently inspire, have infiltrated the highest levels of government.
The degree to which the conspiracy right is now in positions of power is, I think, a bit underappreciated https://t.co/6O5XqyUchl
— Sam Stein (@samstein) September 14, 2020
So, this is we're at: Michael Caputo -- a top official at the federal department in charge of fighting the pandemic -- goes on Facebook live to deliver a stream of dangerous conspiracy nonsense.
This will likely worsen as the election approacheshttps://t.co/vjqyYpSieB
— Clive Thompson (@pomeranian99) September 14, 2020
Caputo, who has well established ties to the Kremlin, was installed by the White House in April reportedly to exert more control over Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, whom the dismissed in January as an "alarmist" when he tried to alert the administration to the dangers of the pandemic in January.