HHS official who spread conspiracy theories resigns

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Ximena Barreto, a far-right political pundit who was appointed in December to a communications post at the Department of Health and Human Services, resigned on Friday, an HHS official confirmed to CNN.

Barreto was placed on leave in April following reports from CNN and Media Matters that she spread conspiracies and made anti-Muslim comments. After issuing a public apology, she returned to work but was moved from her job as a deputy director of communications.

Barreto’s resignation was first reported by Politico.

Last month, Mediaite reported additional inflammatory tweets from Barreto including that she tweeted in June, after her public apology, that CNN’s story on her tweets was “a smear.”

Liberal watchdog Media Matters has reported that Barreto called Islam “a cult” and pushed the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which alleged that Hillary Clinton was part of a child-sex ring based in part at a Washington, DC, pizza restaurant.

A subsequent KFile review of her Twitter account “RepublicanChick” found that Barreto also repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam and twice shared conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Barreto also shared a conspiracy theory that French President Emmanuel Macron was controlled by the Rothschild family and that Clinton and former President Barack Obama were controlled by investor and Democratic mega-donor George Soros. Both the Rothschilds and Soros are frequent targets of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Before joining HHS Barreto did work for Donald Trump’s campaign in California during the 2016 election.

A copy of Barreto’s résumé, obtained by CNN last month through a Freedom of Information Act request, also showed she listed as qualifications for the communications job her previous work for a conspiratorial website and a YouTube show she co-hosted on which she made anti-Muslim comments.

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