The Trump administration has a long history of employing people who’ve made wildly racist statements both prior to joining the team and in the course of their jobs, with said statements starting right at the top. Donald Trump, for example, has demanded to know why the U.S. allowed people from the “shithole countries” of Haiti and parts of Africa to “come here,” defended white nationalists, and claimed that the residents of majority–African American Baltimore reside in a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being” would “want to live.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development happily hired a guy who thought that using the N-word was fine. Trump desperately wanted an economist who thought a joke about kicking the Obamas out of “public housing” was hilarious to sit on the Federal Reserve board. You get the idea.
So really, it wasn’t entirely surprising to learn that the new spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services wrote a series of hugely offensive (and since deleted) tweets about Chinese people and the coronavirus before he was hired, though even for this collection of individuals, the tweets score extremely high on the “mildly offensive” to “certified bigot” scale.
Per CNN’s KFile:
Michael Caputo, a longtime New York Republican political operative who worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was appointed last week as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at HHS, a prominent communications role at the department which serves a central role in the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Caputo, a prolific user who often tweeted insults and profanity, recently erased nearly his entire Twitter history from before April 12. CNN’s KFile used the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine to review more than 1300 deleted tweets and retweets from late February to early April many of which were regarding the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
While he occasionally weighed in with praise for public officials or more straightforward observations, tweets from this period are also littered with conspiracy theories and controversial language to go after perceived critics of the Trump administration.
In a series of tweets on March 12, Caputo responded to a baseless conspiracy theory that the United States brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, China, by tweeting that “millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters.” He followed up at another user, “Don’t you have a bat to eat?” and tweeted at another user, “You’re very convincing, Wang.”
A small sampling of Caputo’s other tweets included calling reporters “the enemy of the people” for “carrying water for the Chinese Communist Party”; claiming, on March 8, that the Democratic strategy to beat Trump is for hundreds of thousands of people to die from the coronavirus; tweeting at Daniel Goldman, a lawyer for the Democratic Party during the impeachment inquiry who had tested positive for COVID-19, “Wow. I started out feeling badly for you. At least now we know the Wuhan Virus doesn’t have any lingering effects on douchebags”; and retweeting MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who noted that the U.S. was doing the worst job of any country on earth handling the crisis, and writing, “Who knew @chrishayes is Chinese?”
And if you thought Caputo might experience some small measure of embarrassment or regret or other human emotion about the tweets being revealed, you unfortunately mistook him for a person capable of feeling shame.
After publication, Caputo responded to CNN’s request for comment by saying that reporting on his past tweets is “fair game, dude. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me at all.” He claimed that he deletes his tweets “every month and I do it because it drives people mad.” He added “when you tweet in spirited fashion, KFile is going to have them. I’ve known that all my days. So I don’t mind what you’ve done.” Caputo defended his past Twitter behavior saying he was “a defender of the President” tweeting in a “spirited manner“ that included calling out reporters, but he said he’s “now a servant of the American people and some might be disappointed, but my tweets will be different.”
Spokespeople for HHS did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. The White House declined to comment.
While another administration might see Caputo’s tweets as grounds for firing, in reality they likely helped him secure the gig. Rather than being escorted out of the building, he can probably expect a raise or at least a hearty pat on the back for a job well done:
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Mitch McConnell would rather states go bankrupt than get bailout money
Senator Mitch McConnell took a hard line on Wednesday against giving cash-short states more federal aid in future emergency pandemic relief legislation, saying that those suffering steep shortfalls amid the coronavirus crisis should instead consider bankruptcy. “I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in an interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
Mr. McConnell’s comments were an explicit rejection of a top priority of Democrats who have pushed to spend tens of billions of dollars to help states. His staff members highlighted their partisan cast in a news release circulated a short time later, in which his statement appeared under the heading “Stopping Blue State Bailouts.” The phrase suggested that the top Senate Republican was singling out for scorn some of the hardest-hit, heavily Democratic states such as California, Illinois, and New York.
In response, fellow Republican Peter King called McConnell’s remarks “shameful and indefensible.” New York governor Andrew Cuomo was similarly irked, calling the bankruptcy suggestion “one of the saddest, really dumb comments of all time.” He also noted that, incidentally, McConnell’s state of Kentucky relies much more on federal funds than New York. “It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate,” Cuomo said during his daily press briefing. “Your state is getting bailed out. Not my state.”
Ivanka Trump loves herself some social distancing protests
Next time, perhaps consider throwing “Down with these freaky ass rules saying you can’t travel to your father’s out-of-state golf club in the middle of a pandemic” on one of your signs.
Another hot tip from noted virologist Donald Trump
Coronavirus Made America’s Biggest Banks Even Bigger (WSJ)
House Set to Ratify $484 Billion in Aid for Pandemic Relief (WSJ)
Jobless Numbers Are “Eye-Watering” but Understate the Crisis (NYT)
Ousted vaccine expert, alleging retaliation, is not the first scientist sidelined in Trump era (Washington Post)
New York Finds Virus Marker in 13.9%, Suggesting Wide Spread (Bloomberg)
Frustrations Build for Those Still Awaiting Stimulus Checks (WSJ)
Warren Buffett’s “Fortress” Is Breached by Coronavirus-Related Shutdowns (Bloomberg)
Instacart Doubled Workforce in a Month, Now Seeking 250,000 More (Bloomberg)
Investors yanked $33 billion from hedge funds during first quarter (NYP)
Trump administration considers leveraging emergency coronavirus loan to force Postal Service changes (Washington Post)
A Closed Border Can’t Stop This Elderly Couple: “Love Is the Best Thing in the World” (NYT)
Rich people doing chores for first time: “It’s been a complete shock” (NYP)
Here’s some good news for horny quarantiners (NYP)
— The Coronavirus Is Blowing Up the Media Landscape
— The Mental Toll of COVID-19 Is Crushing Medical Workers
— Why Trump’s Coronavirus Optimism Isn’t Working
— In Washington, a Breakdown of Politics as Usual
— Related’s Stephen Ross Has a Giant Coronavirus Hypocrisy Problem
— From the Archive: Following the Psychological Contagion That Fed the 2014 Ebola Outbreak
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