White House tries to play defense with falsehoods about former Pence aide Troye



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: CNN


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CNN

The White House moved quickly Thursday to try to discredit Olivia Troye, the former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, after she released a video charging that President Donald Trump failed to protect the public from coronavirus and that he only cared about getting reelected.

In a flurry of statements from White House aides and President Donald Trump, the administration sought to paint Troye as a disgruntled, low-level employee who was fired. But in doing so, the White House made a series of misleading and sometimes outright false statements about the role Troye had on the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the circumstances of her departure.

Troye told CNN she left the Trump administration on her own, and that much of the behavior from the President she cited in the video — such as accusing the President of suggesting Covid-19 was a good thing because he wouldn’t have to shake hands with people — was witnessed by others.

The White House denied her claims, and in doing so, downplayed her role. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said Troye was “never in private meetings with the President,” while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Troye “typically sat in the overflow room of task force.”

But there are pictures of Troye sitting behind Trump and Pence at a task force meeting, and a White House aide acknowledged she was “present a few times when the President addressed large groups — like the task force — where dozens of people were present.”

Asked for clarification on defining a “private meeting,” the White House aide said “she’s never met the President, she definitely never briefed the President, and to the best of my knowledge never stepped foot in the Oval and she was never in small meetings with the President.”

But Troye tells CNN much of this is also false. She claims that she has met the President, and that in fact, he asked her who she was in one of the first task force meetings. Troye claims she was present for every meeting when the President joined for calls with governors about Covid-19, and that she was in the Oval Office a few times with task force members, including when Trump asked her boss at the time, the vice president, to lead the task force.

“What I’ve said about him and his behavior was also witnessed by all of these other people because yes, they were in the meetings with me,” Troye told CNN in an interview. “I’m not claiming to be in small meetings with him. And it didn’t take a small meeting to make the President speak freely because he is who he is.”

Trump joined in the attacks on Troye Thursday evening, falsely claiming she had been fired and touting the goodbye letter she sent to colleagues in July.

“We have a letter from her, I was just told, that is absolutely, the most beautiful going away letter. She was terminated. They

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“It Was All About the Election”: The Ex-White House Aide Olivia Troye on Trump’s Narcissistic Mishandling of COVID-19

When I spoke with Olivia Troye on Thursday afternoon, she sounded more than a little scared. She was about to go public with a scorching video, in which she would denounce President Donald Trump and his stewardship of the country during the coronavirus pandemic. Troye, who served as Vice-President Mike Pence’s adviser for homeland security until late July, has witnessed the Administration’s response to the crisis, as Pence’s top aide on the White House coronavirus task force. She had seen Trump rant in private about Fox News coverage as his public-health advisers desperately tried to get him to focus on a disease that has now killed some two hundred thousand Americans. She had decided that Trump was lying to the American public about the disease, and that “words matter, especially when you’re the President of the United States,” and that it was time to speak out. She was nervous and scared and worried for her family and her career. But she plunged ahead anyway.

I asked about her firsthand observation of the President during the crisis. She said that Trump was “disruptive.” That he could not “focus.” That he was consumed by himself and his prospects in November. “For him, it was all about the election,” Troye told me. “He just can’t seem to care about anyone else besides himself.”

Troye joined the coronavirus task force when it was first established, in late January, before any Americans had died from COVID-19. Her experience on it, Troye told me, convinced her that Trump’s handling of the situation—the conscious spreading of disinformation, the disregard for the task force’s work—had made the crisis far worse for Americans. She warned about the President’s push for a vaccine before the November election and said that she did not trust him to do the right thing for the country’s health and safety. “What I’m really concerned about is if they rush this vaccine and pressure people and get something out because they want to save the election,” she said.

Troye is the first White House staff member who has worked on the coronavirus response to speak out publicly against Trump, but the President and the Administration she described were drearily consistent with portraits that have emerged in countless other tell-all interviews and books: a White House riven by backstabbing and suspicion, where trouble flowed from the top and good governance was subordinate to Presidential whim and partisan calculation. She told me she believed that most other staffers on the coronavirus task force were genuinely motivated to help Americans weather the pandemic but that Trump blocked them from implementing the right policies. “Everything that you’re putting in place is derailed not just by a random person—it’s derailed by a No. 1. It’s derailed by the person at the very top,” she said.

Troye described herself to me as a lifelong Republican, whose first job out of college was at the Republican National Committee. On 9/11, she fled her office on foot, walking home past the

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