Former Pence aide slams Trump administration’s coronavirus response, says she’s voting for Biden

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence look on during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

A former aide to Vice President Mike Pence slammed the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and said she will vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a result of her experience in the White House.

Olivia Troye, who was Pence’s leading aide on the White House’s coronavirus task force, cut an ad for the group Republican Voters Against Trump in which she claimed the president cares about no one but himself.

“Towards the middle of February, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if Covid would become a big pandemic here in the United States, it was a matter of when,” Troye says in the ad. “But the president didn’t want to hear that because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how is this going to affect what he considers to be his record of success?”

In a statement, White House spokesperson Judd Deere characterized Troye as a “disgruntled” former employee.

“Outside of generally watching the White House Coronavirus Taskforce from the overflow staff room, this disgruntled former detailee was never in private meetings with the President and her assertions have no basis in reality and are flat out inaccurate,” Deere said in the statement. “The truth is President Trump always put the well-being of the American people first as evidenced by his shutdown of the country, which saved millions of lives, activating the greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II to deliver critical supplies, the development of a never-before-seen testing system that is the envy of the world, and an unending focus on the rapid research and approval of scientifically proven therapeutics and an eventual vaccine.”

Pence said Thursday that he hadn’t read the comments in detail.

“Reads to me like one more disgruntled employee who’s left the White House decided to play politics during an election year,” he told reporters at the White House, according to a pool report.

Troye claimed in the video that Trump once said in a meeting that the virus might be “a good thing” because he would no longer need to shake hands with “these disgusting people.” Deere referred back to his statement when asked about the veracity of those remarks.

“Those disgusting people are the same people that he claims to care about,” she said in the video. 

Troye’s statement adds to criticism of the president’s early response to the pandemic that has been reignited by the release of journalist Bob Woodward’s interviews with Trump from early 2020. In February, Trump told Woodward in a recorded interview that the coronavirus was “deadly stuff,” CNN reported based on Woodward’s forthcoming book. He said in mid-March he wanted to “play it down” so as not to cause a panic.

“It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything’s OK when we know that it’s not,” Troye said in the ad. “The truth is, he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.”

Troye said she has been a lifelong Republican but that she plans to vote for Biden because “it’s country over party.”

Shortly after the ad was released, Politico reported that another former Trump administration staffer had also joined a group of Republicans seeking to unseat the president. Josh Venable, the former chief of staff to Education Secretary Betsy Devos, was named an advisor to the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, the outlet reported.

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