Russia scandal figure who decried "Ukraine hoax" will aid Trump's coronavirus messaging - 2020-04-16
As the Department of Health and Human Services battles the coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration has placed Michael Caputo, a Roger Stone ally who played a part in the Trump-Russia scandal, in charge of the agency's messaging. A longtime Republican operative who was ousted from a job on Trump's 2016 campaign, Caputo recently worked to boost discredited claims alleging that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.
Caputo's hiring reportedly represents an effort by Donald Trump to rein in Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who Trump loyalists believe has worked to protect his own reputation by casting blame for the administration's bungled response to the pandemic on the president. But Caputo's hiring also highlights the extent to which Washington has moved past the Russia scandal and Trump's impeachment.
Less than two years ago, Caputo appeared to be in hot water. In June 2018, the Washington Post reported that he and Stone had met in 2016 with Henry Oknyansky, a Russian expat living in Florida, who wanted to sell damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Caputo, in text messages with Stone the Post obtained, referred to Oknyansky as "the Russian." Though no deal was reached, news of the meeting seemed to contradict claims both Stone and Caputo had made in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. Both men denied any contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign.