Sasha Abramsky, The Nation - The left and right of a presidential coup

Sasha Abramsky, The Nation
The left and right of a presidential coup


Michael R. Caputo is a career flack, a public relations man, sometimes the public voice of someone more important, sometimes just an advisor on what the more important person should say in his own voice.

Like not a few flacks, Caputo does best behind the scenes. Put Michael R. Caputo in a spotlight and he has a tendency to blurt.  More on that later.

Caputo’s career is well-defined by his clients.  In the Reagan era he worked for Oliver North.  In the Clinton era he worked for Boris Yeltsin, and at the beginning of the Putin era, he worked polishing the image of Vladimir Putin.  Then he came home to the U.S. and hooked up with Roger Stone, set up shop in Miami Beach and acquired the kind of off-shore clients you’d expect of someone recommended by Roger Stone, the career faux-tough guy Trump sprung from prison with a pardon after he was convicted of lying to Congress and threatening a witness against him.

During the long winter of the Obama era, Caputo wound up working for the Tea Party nominee for Republican Party candidate for Governor of NY.  Carl Paladino lost big, but he found post-election work for Caputo as the Communications Director the Trump presidential campaign in New York State, another decisively lost cause.

But Caputo didn’t get lost.  Trump loyalists don’t in Trump World.

Instead, when the coronavirus pandemic swamped the U.S.A. and its oblivious and unprepared president, the White House called in the PR man Michael R. Caputo.

His job: shut down Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar – considered not to be a Trump team player – and take control of messaging across the HHS empire, which includes the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health.  To Caputo, this meant corrupting basic scientific reporting like the CDC’s weekly report on what’s sickening and killing Americans so that it followed the White House line that the coronavirus was coming under control.

This dastardly deed might have been Caputo at his best had it stayed behind the scenes, but when whistleblowers outed the scheme, Caputo showed himself at his worst – characteristically on social media.  Caputo almost killed his Trump connection during the 2016 campaign when he crowed on Twitter after his enemy, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski got fired.

Lewandowski’s successor, the presently un-pardoned federal prisoner Paul Manafort saw in the Tweet not just Caputo’s opportunism and disloyalty, but his indiscretion.  So, he fired him.

Did that teach Caputo the virtue of silence?  No, it did not.  Caputo’s Twitter file was so vile, so filled with lewd and misogynistic remarks, he had to scrub it before his naming as Communications boss at HHS.  Oh, you think, then he got it, and buttoned his digital lip.

Nope, this week on his Facebook Live account, Michael R. Caputo sang another stunning aria of bad science and worse “sedition” at the CDC, of another “Deep State plot” against President Trump.  But then, as operatic climaxes tend to do, Caputo’s Facebook story turned violent, the stage filled with bodies, the streets spilled blood.  Yes, Caputo shrieked, there will be a coup!  A coup by left-wing Biden supporters refusing to recognize President Trump’s November re-election.  And, Caputo said, it will be defeated! “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin.”

If you think you’ve heard this nightmare scenario before, you have, but with a few changes.  In the alternate version, Biden wins the election, but Trump refuses to accept the results or hand over power.

And here’s the chilling thing, both versions end exactly the same way – as Caputo predicted, “when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin.”


Sasha Abramsky, who writes regularly for The Nation, writes: “I was born and raised in the UK, studied politics, philosophy and economics at Balliol College, Oxford, and moved to the US in my early 20s. I have lived and worked in London, New York, and in California. My writings have been published in the Nation magazine, the New Yorker online, the New York Times, Atlantic, Mother Jones, Truthout, Sacramento Magazine, Slate, Salon, and many other publications in the US. In the UK I have written for a number of publications, including the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Telegraph, and the New Statesman.

“Over the past twenty years, I have focused mainly on social justice themes, though have also written book reviews, travel essays, articles on sports and on music, and other areas of life that pique my interest. In addition to the articles that I write, I am also the author of nine books, ranging from books on criminal justice to a memoir about my grandparents, through to my most recent book, a biography of the sportswoman Lottie Dod, titled “Little Wonder: The Fabulous Story of Lottie Dod, the World’s First Female Sports Superstar.



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