Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo has apologized to staff for his bizarre Facebook Live rant on Sunday and has hinted that he might step down, sources tell Politico. The insiders say Caputo—who claimed Sunday that a "resistance unit" of government scientists was plotting against President Trump and advised people to "buy ammunition" before the election—had functioned well in the past with nobody filling his role as top communications official. Another HHS source says Caputo, who said Sunday that his mental health was "failing," is considering taking medical leave. His Facebook rant followed criticism in the media of his push to alter coronavirus reports from the CDC.
According to Politico's sources, Caputo acknowledged to staffers that his remarks reflected badly on the communications unit and blamed his behavior on poor health and the stress of having his family receive death threats. Bloomberg reports that Caputo deleted his personal Twitter account after late-night tweets Sunday, including one in which he called for journalists to be tear-gassed. His Facebook account was also deactivated. Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no background in public health, was appointed by the White House in April as assistant secretary for public affairs. Insiders tell the Washington Post that advisers urged President Trump to install Caputo in the role instead of firing HHS Secretary Alex Azar. (Read more Michael Caputo stories.)