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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

Michael Caputo, the longtime Trump hype man and HHS official, is taking a leave of absence from the Department of Health and Human Services.

This follows a tumultuous few days in which reports surfaced showing Caputo and one of his close aides at HHS were involved in a scheme to pressure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into cooking the books on COVID-19 reporting data to more closely adhere to President Trump’s rosy rhetoric on the pandemic.

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We reported on the news this weekend after Politico published a piece based on emails it had obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services. Essentially, for weeks, HHS public affairs chief Michael Caputo (and former member of the 2016 Trump campaign), along with his scientific adviser, pressured the CDC to change its reports on COVID-19 spread and case data from across the U.S.

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The former Republican presidential candidate and longtime Christian Broadcasting Network host’s ire is not aimed at President Trump ghastly admission that he intentionally downplayed the severity of COVID-19 even though he was aware of it’s deadliness. He’s upset he offered up his iniquities freely to the press. Specifically, to the famous Bob Woodward.

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President Trump is reportedly banking on a fever swamp perception of former Vice President Joe Biden’s mental acuity — which has been the subject of baseless rumors perpetuated not only by the right, but also, apparently, by Russian propaganda — to guide him through the debates in coming weeks.

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