The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that Michael Caputo, the embattled top spokesman at the agency - which is overseeing the country's coronavirus response - will take a two-month-long leave of absence to "focus on his health and the well-being of his family."
The news comes after the New York Times reported that Caputo, a former adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign, said during a Facebook Live that left-wing "hit squads" were plotting an armed insurrection and that government scientists were engaging in "sedition," alleging that people at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had formed a "resistance unit" determined to undermine Trump’s bid for reelection.
At a Senate panel on Wednesday, CDC director Robert Redfield said - without mentioning Caputo by name - that there was no truth to those claims.
REDFIELD: "It deeply saddened me that those false accusations were made about a group of really unbelievably professional people that serve this nation."
News of Caputo's leave of absence came shortly after that Senate hearing ended.
Also leaving the HHS is Caputo's senior policy and science advisor, Paul Alexander.
The Times reported that Alexander had also accused CDC scientists of trying to "hurt the president" with weekly morbidity and mortality reports and, in one instance, asked Redfield to edit reports that had already been published, which he believed undercut the administration’s efforts to encourage schools to reopen.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany avoided a question about Caputo and his inflammatory remarks about an armed revolt.
REPORTER: "Is Michael Caputo welcome back after his 60-day leave, after urging his followers on Facebook to stock up on ammunition?"
MCENANY: "I'm not going to weigh into any personnel matters. As you know, he's taken a leave of absence. That was announced just before I came out here."
Caputo has since apologized for his behavior to HHS staff and to its chief Alex Azar.
Caputo did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.