Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence who quit the White House coronavirus task force, condemned President Donald Trump’s “frightening” response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I felt that in my heart and my entire being, I think American lives continue to be on the line,” she told TODAY’s Andrea Mitchell, adding that President Trump “was really focused on public image, message, and it was really more about his personal agenda than really what the task force had at hand, which was how we’re going to save and protect Americans.”
Troye says the president knew how serious of a threat the pandemic posed on American lives well before the country’s first official coronavirus death was recorded in late February.
“We certainly had a task force meeting and discussion where we had this conversation, that this was going to be big,” she said.
“Federally? January 28?” asked Mitchell.
“Federally. Late January,” Troye replied. “We knew.”
“Yet the president was saying a week later, ‘It’s going to disappear,'” Mitchell said. “‘It’s going to go away.’ How did that make you feel?”
“It was frightening,” Troye said. “You know, when you’re the president, words matter.” She noted that during one Situation Room meeting, Trump actively downplayed the threat of the virus. “I was sitting to the right of him in the room when he said it and he was like, ‘You know, when you’re a politician, you have to shake a lot of hands, you have to shake a lot of hands and these people are disgusting. It’s gross. So maybe COVID’s probably a good thing, right? I don’t have to shake hands. I don’t have to do that anymore… I can’t imagine how any honestly normal human being would ever say that out loud in the middle of a pandemic.”
Asked why she’s speaking out, Troye said, “I felt like I needed to tell the truth about what was happening and what we were dealing with internally, especially with the president who was very undermining all the work that was going on, on the task force. I just felt that now it mattered more than ever.”
You can watch the interview below.
Olivia Troye, who worked as an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence before quitting the coronavirus task force, says President Trump’s disregard for science is costing American lives. Troye spoke with @mitchellreports about why she resigned. pic.twitter.com/ga209Pd391
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 22, 2020