In an ad released on Thursday, a former senior adviser on the White House coronavirus task force lambasted President Donald Trump as a stonewalling, capricious leader with more concern for his reelection than the pandemic, and said she would be voting for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in November.
Olivia Troye, who worked as an adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security to Vice President Mike Pence before leaving the administration in August, appeared in an ad in which she shared damning anecdotes that portrayed Trump as a debilitating actor in the administration’s efforts to contain the virus. She said Trump was dismissive toward the task force’s efforts to prepare for the outbreak from early in the year, before the virus had made heavy inroads into the U.S.
“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. “He doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.”
Troye also asserted that Trump said during a meeting: “Maybe this Covid thing’s a good thing. I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.”
That remark, Troye said, encapsulated the president’s flippant attitude toward a pandemic that has since claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.
Troye is an avowed Republican, and the ad was run by the group Republican Voters Against Trump. The Washington Post first reported Troye’s frustrations with her previous role.
The White House promptly rebuffed the allegations, using its frequent defense against personnel-turned-critics by saying that Troye was a disgruntled and vindictive ex-staffer. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Thursday night a letter by Troye after her departure from the White House. It praised the task force’s work combating the disease.
“I have witnessed first hand how dedicated and committed all of you have been to doing the right thing,” the letter said.
But Troye’s criticisms were directed at the president specifically, not the administration. In the ad, she said working with the task force was the “opportunity and honor of a lifetime.”
“I put my heart and soul into this role every single day,” she said in the ad. “But at some points I would come home at night, I would look myself in the mirror and say, are you really making a difference? Because no matter how hard you work or what you do, the president is going to do something detrimental to keeping Americans safe.”
Her letter likewise praised her colleagues and her work with Pence, but did not mention Trump.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday evening before departing for a campaign rally in Wisconsin, Trump said that “I have no idea who she is.” He then said Troye was dismissed from her post and “then she wrote a beautiful letter.”
The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, later told reporters aboard Air Force One: “It’s the swamp fighting back. It’s, generally speaking, disgruntled employees.”
Asked by a reporter what Troye was disgruntled about and whether she was fired, Meadows responded, “I can’t speak to personnel matters.”