HHS official who spread Pizzagate conspiracy theory out at agency

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A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official who in 2016 used social media to spread the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory is reportedly out at the agency.

Ximena Barreto-Rice, one of President Trump’s political appointees, was escorted from HHS headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Politico reported.

HHS did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on Friday and a message sent to her email address returned a bounce-back message.

An individual with knowledge of the situation told Politico that Barreto-Rice resigned.


The Trump appointee joined HHS’s communications staff last December. She was reassigned this spring to a different division within the agency after social media posts emerged from her accounts claiming that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was involved in a child sex ring run out of a D.C. pizzeria.

Other conspiracy theories shared by Barreto-Rice in 2016 included attempts to link Clinton to the unsolved murder of Seth Rich, an aide to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Barreto-Rice expressed a general disdain for Democratic politicians in her posts, including one that claimed “our forefathers would have hung” former President Obama and Clinton for treason, and claimed that Islam was a “f—ing cult, not a religion.”

An HHS official told The Hill earlier this year that Barreto-Rice would be reassigned away from the department’s communications staff, but that no official complaints on her work for HHS had been received.

“Mrs. Barreto-Rice will not to return to the public affairs department and will serve in a different role where she will work to complete several projects,” an HHS official said earlier this year.

The official added at the time that “no complaints have been received in the usual departmental channels relative to Mrs. Barreto-Rice’s conduct during her tenure at HHS.” 

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Donald Trump Health and Human Services HHS Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton pizzagate Trump administration
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