Report: Ex-Kremlin Aide Has Been Interfering With CDC Reports On COVID Pandemic

Screengrab / MSNBC / YouTube


Michael Caputo reportedly has made substantial efforts to align CDC reports with the president's statements.

Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, reportedly has interfered with coronavirus reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Politico reported that after Caputo, “a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background,” was brought into the administration in April, “there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump's statements, including the president's claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.”

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC's findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo's team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that "the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks."

Politico reported in April that “Caputo once lived in Moscow, where he worked for Boris Yeltsin and also performed public relations work for a subsidiary to Russian state-owned energy conglomerate Gazprom. Caputo told the Buffalo News in 2016 that he wasn’t ‘proud of the work today, but at the time, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.’”

Wikipedia notes that Caputo “worked for Gazprom Media in 2000 where he worked on improving the image of Vladimir Putin in the U.S. He moved back to the U.S. and founded a public relations company, and then moved to Ukraine to work on a candidate's campaign for parliament.”

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