On Wednesday, Politico reported that President Donald Trump is tapping Michael Caputo, a former official on his presidential campaign, to oversee communications for the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to reporters Dan Diamond and Daniel Lippman, the decision to appoint Caputo — a frequent defender of the president on cable and social media who authored a book on impeachment called "The Ukraine Hoax" — is "designed to assert more White House control over Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, whom officials believe has been behind recent critical reports about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to two officials with knowledge of the move."
"The high-level move comes after a series of news reports that portrayed Azar as warning Trump about the pending Covid-19 pandemic in January but having the president and his aides dismiss his concerns. Trump on Sunday tweeted that Azar 'told me nothing until later,' appearing to refute those reports," continued the report. "White House officials believe that Azar has been shaping favorable coverage of his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak and trying to shift blame for the administration’s mishandled response, said two officials with knowledge of the situation."
Trump has reportedly been souring on Azar for months, dating back to his feud with Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma.
"Azar has spent the past year battling with White House officials and his own deputies over policies and personnel, and the White House recently installed a new HHS personnel chief," continued the report. "Meanwhile, Verma has assumed a more prominent role in the White House’s coronavirus response even as Azar, who led the response for January and much of February, has disappeared from national TV."
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