The Trump administration on Wednesday said Michael Caputo, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, will take a 60-day leave of absence in the wake of twin controversies that erupted over the weekend.
HHS said Mr. Caputo will use the time to “focus on his health and the well-being of his family.”
His principal deputy, Ryan Murphy, will lead the day-to-day operations of the public affairs office while Mr. Caputo is gone.
Politico late Friday reported on fears that Mr. Caputo, who worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 and joined HHS in April, and his scientific adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, leaned on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to edit weekly scientific bulletins to fit President Trump’s political narratives.
Mr. Caputo argued the interactions between his office and the CDC were part of a rigorous and healthy scientific debate.
But Mr. Caputo then used a Facebook Live video over the weekend to warn of armed rebellion after the election and claim there is a “resistance unit” within the CDC, causing further uproar.
Mr. Caputo reportedly apologized to fellow staff and cited the toll of physical health problems and death threats against his family.
HHS said Dr. Alexander was hired on a temporary basis and will be leaving the agency.
Asked whether Mr. Caputo will be welcomed back after 60 days, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “I’m not going to weigh in to any personnel matters.”
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