In multiple now-deleted tweets, the new spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services used racist language against Asians in relation to the coronavirus.
Michael Caputo deleted nearly all his tweets three days prior to assuming his new position as assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS on April 15, CNN reports. The former senior advisor for the Trump campaign’s social media posts were recovered through use of “The Wayback Machine,” which archives internet web pages.
On March 15, Caputo took to Twitter to respond to baseless conspiracy theories that the United States brought COVID-19 to Wuhan, China.
“Millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters,” he wrote, asking another user, “Don’t you have a bat to eat?”
“You’re very convincing, Wang,” he tweeted at another user, who did not have the name Wang anywhere on his profile.
Two days later, Caputo posted a tweet that simply repeated “#ChineseVirus” twenty times in support of President Trump’s use of the term. When a reporter questioned Trump’s use of the phrase, Caputo said many Americans viewed reporters as the enemy of the people for “carrying water for the Chinese Communist Party.”
In multiple other tweets, the HHS spokesman referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan Virus” and “Wuhan Flu.” He also engaged with an account that used terms such as “Communist Party of China virus,” “PRC virus,” “CPC-19” and “Xi Flu.”
After CNN published a recap of the tweets on Thursday, users on social media, including Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), were quick to respond with criticism.
“The anti-Asian bigot & racist Caputo must be fired today,” Raskin tweeted. “His deranged, profane & hate-filled polemics disqualify him for public employment & he should quickly return to the rock he lives under. Asian Americans don’t deserve this appalling insult & neither do the rest of us.”
This is not the first time HHS staffing choices have been criticized. According to Newsweek, HHS secretary Alex Azar put former Labradoodle breeder Brian Harrison in charge of managing early efforts against COVID-19 despite Harrison’s lack of public health experience.
The resurfacing of Caputo’s tweets also came a day after a HHS official working to develop a coronavirus vaccine said he was removed from his post because he questioned the value of drugs promoted by President Trump, USA Today reports.
Along with his tweets about China and Chinese people, Caputo has suggested Democrats are hoping hundreds of thousands Americans die so that they can benefit politically.
When a House Democrats lawyer who had tested positive for the coronavirus tweeted about an absence in leadership at the federal level, Caputo replied that “now we know the Wuhan Virus doesn’t have any lingering effects on douchebags.”
Caputo appears immune to criticism over what his self-described “spirited” tweets, which he told CNN were “fair game, dude,” adding that he doesn’t mind that they are being brought to light.
“I report to the president of the United States who creates controversy on Twitter to win every day, blowing the minds of the same hand wringing leftists who think my tweets are a problem,” Caputo said to USA Today. “Have fun with this distraction, I’m working 24/7 leading communications for the nation’s front line cabinet department in a deadly pandemic.”
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