WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBW) — Michael Caputo will take a leave of absence from his job with the Trump Administration following controversial comments he made on Facebook accusing "deep state scientists" who work for the government of wanting Americans to be sick with COVID-19 through the presidential election.
"Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is announcing that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo has decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and the well-being of his family. Mr. Caputo will be on leave for the next 60 days," a statement from the department said.
A statement from Caputo to ABC News indicates the political strategist is taking a temporary medical leave due to "a lymphatic issue discovered last week."
"I'm not going anywhere. They're going to have to kill me," Caputo said in the Facebook video which has since been taken down. "And unfortunately I think that's where this is going. The partisan democrats, the conjugal media, and the scientists, the deep state scientists, want America sick through November."
Caputo, who lives in East Aurora, also told supporters of President Trump to "carry guns" and "buy ammunition now."
Some serious accusations coming from western New Yorker & communications aide for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Caputo in this Facebook video: https://t.co/sqpLFLaRKV— Ali Touhey (@Ali2e) September 16, 2020
He later apologized for his comments, which followed accusations that he tried to change Center for Disease Control reports on COVID data to align with President Trump’s views on the pandemic.
He is also accused of trying to change the focus of CDC reports about the risks the virus has on children.
Democratic members of the Select House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield wanting answers.
The letter requests transcribed interviews and documents from the Trump Administration regarding attempts to hold back on information about the virus.
7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley reached out to Caputo Tuesday for an interview. In a text, Caputo responded “I’m in D.C. No interviews.” However, Caputo did provide the following statement to ABC News:
After consultation with President Trump and Secretary Azar, I have decided to take a temporary medical leave of absence to pursue necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue discovered last week.
My experience mirrors that of many Americans. When I first noticed I was losing weight, I thought it was because of a new exercise and diet regimen. But over time, I realized there may be other factors causing my weight loss for months.
Instead of taking the time to see my doctor, I failed to do so. This was a mistake, and contributed to my stress level, along with the increasing number of violent threats leveled at me and my family back in Buffalo. But every American battling COVID — in every city in every state across the nation — has been under enormous pressure. I am just one of them.
I’ve learned so much in friendship with the doctors of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force. Sometimes we disagree, but we work in unity to defeat the virus and we care for one another. I want to thank Dr Tony Fauci for conferring with my personal physician as we get the healthcare I long needed, and yet neglected, through the pandemic.
Our family is blessed. We urge all Americans to see their family doctor for the healthcare they need but have missed for months during this crisis. Do it today.
Caputo was appointed in April to serve as assistant secretary of public affairs for Azar.