A top Trump health adviser is taking a leave of absence after warning Americans to stock up on ammunition ahead of an armed left-wing insurrection.
The Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary of public affairs, Michael Caputo, will temporarily step aside “to focus on his health and the well-being of his family", the agency announced on Wednesday.
Mr Caputo’s science adviser, Dr Paul Alexander, will also be leaving the department permanently.
It comes after Mr Caputo accused the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s top scientists of “sedition” over their coronavirus pandemic response in a Facebook Live video on Sunday.
In it, he claimed that the CDC had a “resistance unit” to plot how to attack the president, that Joe Biden would refuse to concede the election, and that Trump supporters should prepare for an armed left-wing insurrection.
"When Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin… If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he said in the video.
"Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed? That was a drill.”
— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) September 16, 2020
While Mr Caputo will be on leave for 60 days, HHS said in its statement that science advisor Mr Alexander, who was hired on a temporary basis, would be leaving the department. Ryan Murphy, the principal deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, will lead the day-to-day operations of the office until Mr Caputo returns.
Mr Caputo, who was made the department’s spokesperson in April, was forced to apologize to the department and its leader, Alex Azar, after Democrats called for his firing on Monday. Senator Chuck Schumer went one step further on Tuesday and called on Mr Azar to resign, saying “he’s been almost entirely silent about the chaos and mismanagement in his own agency”.
In the Facebook video, first reported by The New York Times and later circulated widely online, Mr Caputo focused on career scientists at top public health agencies, claiming those “deep in the bowels of the CDC have given up science and become political animals”.
He said they haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump.”
While Mr Caputo did not offer any evidence he may have access to that support his claims, they echo the sentiments of the president, who has said there is a “deep state” slowing trials for a coronavirus vaccine
The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020