White House

A Patriot and a Professional

Michael Caputo arrives to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
The relentlessly vindictive Left should let Michael Caputo do his job.

Breaking news:

Postman delivers mail.

Dog wags tail.

President of the United States hires loyalist.

This shocking development fuels Hate Trump, Inc.’s latest war dance. Specifically: The president on Monday appointed Michael Caputo as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Public Affairs. He now oversees HHS’s communications during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Two words summarize the Left’s response, via Twitter. And they’re not, “Good luck!”

  • “Caputo can be a good and effective official,” Maggie Haberman of the so-called “Paper of Record” wrote half-generously. “He also is more than willing to carry a rhetorical bat on behalf of whoever his boss is.”
  • “Now they’re just recycling trash,” snarked Amy Siskind.
  • “New level of crazy,” complained Michael Carpenter. “Trump has appointed impeachment conspiracy theorist (and Roger Stone buddy) Michael Caputo as . . . Assistant Secretary of HHS.”
  • “Caputo is an intense Trump loyalist whose recent book The Ukraine Hoax, alleged a conspiracy behind Trump’s impeachment,” Politico hectored Wednesday night.

This is not unusual. Elected officials place devotees in influential posts, to advance their agendas and execute their policies.

Caputo has known Trump since 1988, when the real-estate magnate was a guest at the Republican National Convention. The consultant from Buffalo and the builder from Queens subsequently collaborated on various projects.

Caputo aided Trump’s campaign from November 2015 through its New York GOP primary push, which Caputo led. He became a senior communications adviser in June 2016. He also raised money for Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super PAC. Caputo has praised the president on radio shows and podcasts that he has hosted.

Future National Review contributing editor Deroy Murdock, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Caputo, unidentified guest, and University of Virginia Associate Professor of Politics Gerard Alexander attend CPAC 1985 in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy of Deroy Murdock)

Appointing believers is routine for other chief executives. But, Trump is president. So the Left attacks him for tapping an enthusiast who is eager to serve him and the American people.

“Not so fast!” Caputo’s foes insist. “He’s a crook!”

  • “Omg this corrupt regime,” Olga Lautman blasted. “This is nuts! Mafia state.”
  • “Caputo should be behind bars,” Cheri Jacobus demanded. “But then, most of Trump mob should be.” (Jacobus was fired as a columnist with The Hill and USA Today for writing on Twitter in July 2018: “are your daughters ugly like you? Or can Trump use them at the Epstein parties so they can survive when you’re broke, bitter, along [sic] and in prison for treason?”)
  • “Name is Bishop” asked: “In all seriousness, how is Michael Caputo not in prison with the other Trump goons?”

Caputo should be locked up only if America now jails people for merely testifying.

Caputo was a Russiagate witness. For three hours each, he addressed the House and Senate intelligence committees and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s inquest. His nine hours of testimony were closed to the public.

Investigators unsuccessfully squeezed Caputo for proof that Trump’s campaign was infested with Kremlin operatives. Caputo’s former associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone were found guilty of wrongdoing unrelated to so-called “Russian collusion.” But Caputo never was accused, indicted, or convicted of anything — neither obstruction, nor conspiracy, nor espionage. Not even jaywalking.

Russiagate proved as free of U.S. fingerprints as the Volga River. In March 2019, Mueller’s final report concluded that “the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”

Michael Caputo and President Trump (Courtesy of Michael Caputo)

Despite Caputo’s non-involvement in non-crimes, he racked up $205,000 in legal fees. His name became radioactive, and his three remaining public-relations clients tiptoed away to avoid becoming ensnared in the feds’ infinite investigative net — complete with lawyers bills, zapped energy, and shredded nerves.

“Hold on!” Caputo’s enemies scream. “He’s a Russian spy. HHS = KGB!”

  • “Trump is installing literal agent of Russia Michael Caputo as Health and Human Services spokesman,” Eric Garland asserted. “Masks are off, peeps.”
  • “Michael Caputo did PR for Putin,” claimed K. Louise Neufeld.
  • “Caputo, who moved to Moscow in 1990s, was Putin’s image maker,” charged Alexandra Chalupa, the former DNC official who visited Ukraine’s Washington, D.C. embassy in March 2016 to ask Kiev’s diplomats to dredge dirt on Trump. Chalupa actually solicited foreign interference in U.S. elections.

The “Mikhail Kaputov” narrative is less significant than spilled Stolichnaya.

“I was sent to Russia in 1994 by the Clinton administration to meddle in Russian elections and stayed seven years doing it,” Caputo told me. “I urge my critics to get passports and see the world.”

He helped create Rock the Vote Russia, which boosted Boris Yeltsin as the former Soviet Union’s first post-Communist president. Caputo then advised Yeltsin’s administration on election reform through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Caputo once met a quiet, cordial deputy mayor of St. Petersburg named Vladimir Putin in 1995, at an election-law conference in the former Leningrad. Caputo spoke there on democratic reforms. He remembered that conferees toasted with vodka as Putin hoisted a glass of water.

In 2001, Caputo spent a month working with Gazprom Media, a private company, to help its CEO, Alfred Kokh, coordinate media meetings in Washington, D.C. U.S.–Russian relations were warmer then.

“I looked the man in the eye,” then-president George W. Bush said of Putin. “I found him very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

Does this make Bush a Kremlin mole?

Whatever warmth Kokh and Putin enjoyed iced over. Caputo’s former client fled Putin and now is exiled in Germany.

Caputo enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1980 to 1983. Relevant to his new position, he served the 25th Infantry Division as a Public Affairs Specialist, based at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, with annual, three-month deployments in South Korea. He has performed on-the-ground communications work on behalf of disaster victims in every major U.S. hurricane, from Katrina onward, including two full months on site after Hurricane Maria trashed Puerto Rico.

America is the land of second chances. And this intelligent, diligent movement conservative — who has been my friend, colleague, and fellow activist since CPAC 1985 — deserves his second chance. Of course, today’s vicious Left disagrees. People like Caputo never leave their crosshairs.

Michael Caputo is a patriot and a professional who will serve, with distinction, President Trump and the American people.

The relentlessly vindictive Left should allow this man to do his job.

In short: Let Caputo be Caputo.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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