Who is Michael Caputo? Michael Raymon Caputo (born March 24, 1962) is an American political strategist and lobbyist. In April 2020, Caputo was appointed Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration. He worked for the Reagan administration with Oliver North, and later as director of media services in the campaign for President George H. W. Bush in the 1992 U.S. presidential election. Caputo moved to Russia in 1994, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and was an adviser to Boris Yeltsin. He worked for Gazprom Media in 2000, where he worked to improve Vladimir Putin’s image in the United States. He returned to the United States and founded a public relations firm, then moved to Ukraine to work on a candidate’s campaign for parliament.
Caputo was in charge of the campaign for Carl Paladino’s failed 2010 bid for governor of New York. Caputo worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign from November 2015 to June 2016 and was head of communications for New York. He left the campaign after publicly supporting the removal of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Caputo was investigated by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
While working in a top position in HHS for the Trump administration, Caputo sought to change, delay, suppress and retroactively modify the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 scientific reports that were deemed unflattering to President Trump, and accused CDC scientists of sedition. On September 14, 2020, Caputo posted a video on Facebook in which he stated, without evidence, that “there are strike teams trained across the country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for President Trump. He also said, “You understand they’re going to kill me and unfortunately I think that’s where it’s going.” Caputo later said of himself that his physical health was in question and that his “mental health had definitely failed.”
Caputo was born in 1962; his father was Raymond Caputo and his grandparents were immigrants from southern Italy. Born in Buffalo, New York, Caputo spent most of his early years in the Buffalo region known as the Southtowns. Caputo’s first public relations job was in Hawaii while he was in the U.S. Army, which he joined soon after finishing high school. In 1983, after leaving the Army, he enrolled at the University of Buffalo.
Caputo was employed by Republican politicians such as Congressman Jack Kemp. He then worked for his father’s insurance company. Caputo was a mentor to Roger J. Stone Jr. in political consulting and became his personal driver. He learned from Stone that political campaigns could be turned into victories for candidates if the public found them amusing.
Because of his time working on the Trump campaign and the fact that he had previously worked for politicians in Russia, Caputo was contacted by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on May 9, 2017, as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The House Intelligence Committee asked Caputo to come in and be interviewed voluntarily and to present to the committee the relevant documents associated with his investigation.
During a March 20, 2017 hearing, Representative Jackie Speier questioned FBI Director James Comey about Caputo and cited the occupation with Gazprom and history in Ukraine. Caputo worked with the House Intelligence Committee to answer questions. Posting on social media, Caputo denied ties to Russia during the Trump campaign. Caputo told the House Intelligence Committee: “The only time the president and I talked about Russia was in 2013, when he just asked me to escape what it was like to live there in the context of a dinner conversation.”
In May 2016, Caputo and Roger Stone had met with Henry Greenberg (aka Henry Oknyansky), a Russian citizen who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Caputo later denied contact with Russian officials or discussed Russia with Trump or other campaign aides. Caputo said in June 2017 that it was only when prosecutors informed him that Greenberg was Russian that he learned that the man he had spoken to in 2016 was not a U.S. citizen.
Caputo hired attorney Dennis Vacco to represent him during the investigation, and later claimed to have liquidated his children’s college funds to pay Vacco.