A top communications official for the administration’s coronavirus response urged President Donald Trump’s supporters to prepare for an armed insurrection after a contested election and accused government scientists of “sedition” in a Facebook Live chat, the Washington Post reports. Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, which is overseeing the coronavirus response, leveled the accusations and promoted other conspiracy theories. Trump installed Caputo in April after weighing whether to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar over a series of damaging stories about Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Allies persuaded Trump to not make such a change but instead to bring in Caputo.
He and an adviser have faced mounting criticism in recent days for interfering with the work of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seeking to change, delay or kill weekly scientific reports they thought undermined Trump’s message that the pandemic is under control. Caputo predicted that Trump would win the election but that Democrat Joe Biden would refuse to concede. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he warned in the video. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”