“And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.” He also added, “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
“I don’t want to talk about death anymore,” he said in the video, adding: “You’re not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.”
Caputo said in a statement to CNN on Monday that in the time since he has joined the administration, “my family and I have been continually threatened and in and out of criminal court dealing with harassment prosecutions.”
“This weighs heavily on us and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe,” he said.
Caputo declined to discuss the matter any further in a brief phone interview with CNN later Monday, except to say he made the comments as he was dealing with some of the pressure caused by harassment to himself and his family over the last several days. He added that harassment included what he deemed to be death threats.
HHS told the Times in a statement that Caputo “is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.”
During his broadside, Caputo took aim at the CDC, claiming without evidence that scientists “deep in the bowels of the CDC have given up science and become political animals.”
The scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Caputo said.
Amid tension between the administration and the CDC, a federal health official told CNN over the weekend that some federal health officials at the CDC believe the interference with the weekly scientific reports to be an effort to change communications by the agency’s scientists so as not to contradict the President. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the significance of the virus, sometimes contradicting his own White House task force doctors.
Revelations of the HHS’ officials involvement marked the latest example of political interference by administration appointees at the nation’s health agencies.
During the video on Sunday, Caputo said he expected to stay in his position because the President supported him.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Caputo said in the video. “I swear to God, as God is my witness, I am not stopping.”
This story has been updated with additional comments from Caputo to CNN on Monday.
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Nathan McDermott and Em Steck contributed to this report.