A political appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services has apologized and is now back at work at the department after it came to light that she spread conspiracy theories and shared an image that said “our forefathers would have hung” Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason on social media.
Ximena Barreto is a far-right political pundit who joined the Trump administration as deputy director of communications at HHS in December. She was placed on leave by the department in April after the liberal watchdog Media Matters reported that Barreto called Islam “a cult” and pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely claims that Clinton is part of a child-sex ring based at a Washington, DC, pizza restaurant.
A subsequent CNN KFile review of her Twitter account “RepublicanChick” found that Barreto also repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam and shared conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
An HHS official told CNN’s KFile Tuesday night that Barreto would not be returning to the public affairs department and would instead serve in a different role working on unspecified projects. The official would not elaborate any further on Barreto’s new role.
Barreto’s reinstatement comes after a department review of the online content available on her social media accounts. The official said no complaints about Barreto’s conduct had been filed through department channels during her time at HHS.
Barreto apologized for her comments in a statement provided by HHS.
“Comments I made as I private citizen before I was hired at HHS were brought to light by concerned members of the press,” Barreto said. “In the heated and hyper-passionate political campaign environment, I made generalized comments regarding race relations and radical Islam. I fully understand that these emotionally-charged comments were hurtful, and I deeply apologize to members of both communities.”
“I love America and its people,” she added. “I have many, many friends of all races and religions, and I look forward to working hand-in hand with them all as we labor to improve our nation for future generations. America is the land of opportunity, I hope for the opportunity of understanding and forgiveness.”