BUFFALO, N.Y. –The Department of Health and Human Services top spokesperson Michael Caputo announced Wednesday he will take a temporary medical leave of absence from his position.
He said he will be pursuing necessary screenings for a "lymphatic issue" discovered last week. He did not say if there was concern about cancer although lymphoma is one of the most common forms.
Caputo over the past five days or so has become the subject of several controversies. Last week, Politico reported under his leadership HHS had been attempting to interfere with Center for Disease Control reports to ensure they were in line with the administration's message.
On Sunday, Caputo recorded a live Facebook video that has since been taken down. According to the New York Times he made several seemingly wild accusations during that Facebook Live, including that government scientists were intentionally subverting the administration and that leftist opponents of the president were planning an armed revolt.
Tuesday, Politico reported he held an emergency meeting with staff in which he apologized for drawing negative attention to the Trump administration's health care strategy and he was considering medical leave. It mentioned he had complained of stress but did not note any lymphatic issues.
Caputo, in his statement, said he had been losing weight for months and at first attributed it to a new exercise and diet regimen but realized over time there may be other factors.
"Instead of taking the time to see my doctor, I failed to do so. This was a mistake, and contributed to my stress level, along with the increasing number of violent threats leveled at me and my family back in Buffalo," he said. "But every American battling COVID - in every city across the nation - has been under enormous pressure. I am just one of them."
Caputo said he consulted directly with President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar before deciding to take the leave. He also thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for personally conferring with his physician prior to the decision.
"Our family is blessed. We urge all Americans to see their family doctor for the healthcare they need but have missed for months during this crisis," he said. "Do it today."
Caputo has had a long career in politics including serving as the campaign manager to Republican Carl Paladino in 2010 and working on the Trump campaign in 2016. He is close friends with controversial political strategist Roger Stone and was briefly mentioned in the Mueller Report.
He was appointed as HHS Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs in April 2020.