Vice President Mike Pence and other officials speaking with reporters at a coronavirus briefing on March 6.
Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Vice President Mike Pence’s former top aide on the coronavirus task force told The Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that some senior White House aides wanted to “wind down” the task force in April.
President Donald Trump in early May announced he would wind down the coronavirus task force before abruptly reversing course.
Olivia Troye left her White House post in August, and on Thursday she delivered scathing criticism of the president’s pandemic response, accusing him of showing a “flat-out disregard for human life.”
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Olivia Troye, Vice President Mike Pence’s former top aide on the coronavirus task force, told The Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that some senior White House aides wanted to “wind down” the task force at the end of April, even as COVID-19 was surging across the country.
“In the middle of a pandemic, how could you do that?” she said.
President Donald Trump announced plans in early May to wind down the coronavirus task force before abruptly reversing course and declaring the task force would “continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.”
“At a certain point, we won’t need the task force,” Trump told reporters on May 5, adding: “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding it down.”
In both her interview with The Post and a video for the group Republican Voters Against Trump, Troye delivered scathing criticism of Trump’s pandemic response. She argued that the president showed a “flat-out disregard for human life” and that he was more concerned with the economy and his reelection than with protecting Americans.
“The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus, have made this ongoing response a failure,” she told The Post.
Before leaving her post in August, Troye served for two years as a top homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to Pence. She advised the vice president on a range of high-priority issues, including mass shootings, immigration, and hurricanes, and she was deeply involved in the administration’s pandemic response.
The White House dismissed Troye’s allegations as “flat-out inaccurate.” Pence is said to have called his former close aide “one more disgruntled employee who’s left the WH decided to play politics during an election year.”
When asked about Troye, the president simply responded, “I have no idea who she is — she doesn’t know me.”
A lifelong Republican who also served in President George W. Bush’s administration, Troye says she will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.
Troye told The Post she regretted not pushing back more on White House officials and policies she disagreed with while she was a staffer.
“I wished I had been more aggressive in fighting internal forces that were working against the CDC and other policies for the president’s personal agenda,” she said. “I wish I would have been more aggressive with the staff on the vice president’s team and some of the president’s staff.”
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