Trump names Caputo to HHS top communications role
Michael Caputo has been named to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) top communications position, the one-time Trump campaign aide confirmed.
“I am honored to serve the president to the best of my abilities in this time of crisis and, in so doing, the American people,” Caputo, who will join the department as assistant secretary of HHS for public affairs, told The Hill.
The development comes as the White House has grown suspicious of HHS Secretary Alex Azar, believing him to have portrayed himself to the press as attempting in vain in January to sound the alarm within the administration about the coronavirus, according to Politico, which first reported Caputo’s hire. Azar has also feuded with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services head Seema Verma, a closer Trump ally than the HHS secretary.
Trump in a tweet Sunday responding to a “fake” New York Times report alleging the administration had missed key red flags about the virus said Azar “told me nothing until later.”
The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the “paper” itself. I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so. @SecAzar told me nothing until later, and Peter Navarro memo was same as Ban (see his statements). Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020
Caputo is a longtime communications professional but has not previously worked in high-level health care policy, Politico noted.
He will replace acting assistant secretary for public affairs Ryan Murphy, who assumed the role last October. Murphy replaced Judy Stecker, who was promoted to Azar’s deputy chief of staff.
–Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report, which was updated on April 16 at 7:19 a.m.
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