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Ex-Pence Adviser: Trump Bungled Virus  09/18 06:15

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who served 
on the White House coronavirus task force says President Donald Trump once 
suggested that COVID-19 might be a good thing because it would stop him from 
having to shake hands with "disgusting people."

   Olivia Troye is the latest former member of the Trump administration to 
speak out against him and urge voters to deny him a second term. She joins a 
growing list that includes Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at the 
Department of Homeland Security, and former White House communications director 
Anthony Scaramucci.

   Trump said Thursday that he did not know Troye, who was Pence's homeland 
security adviser.

   In a video released Thursday by the group Republican Voters Against Trump, 
Troye says working for Trump was "terrifying" and says he was more concerned 
about his reelection chances than about protecting the nation from the virus.

   "The truth is he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself," she 
says.

   Troye alleges that, during one task force meeting she attended, the 
president said: "'Maybe this COVID thing is a good thing. I don't like shaking 
hands with people. I don't have to shake hands with these disgusting people.'"

   "Those disgusting people are the same people that he claims to care about. 
These are the people still going to his rallies today who have complete faith 
in who he is," she says, insisting, "If the president had taken this virus 
seriously, or if he had actually made an effort to tell how serious it was, he 
would have slowed the virus spread, he would have saved lives."

   Asked about Troye as he left the White House late Thursday for a campaign 
rally in Wisconsin, Trump said he had no idea who Troye is.

   "She worked for the vice president. She was on the task force as some kind 
of a lower-level person. I have no idea who she is," Trump told reporters. "I 
never met her to the best of my knowledge. Maybe she was in a room. I have no 
idea who she is. She doesn't know me. It's just another person that leaves, and 
whether it's CNN or Washington Post, they say negative things."

   Trump said he had been told about the "most beautiful going away letter" 
written by Troye.

   "She wrote a beautiful letter as I understand it, a letter praising the 
administration," Trump said. "But then the people get a hold of her and say, 
'Let's say some bad things about Donald Trump.'"

   The vice president's office released a copy of Troye's departure email, 
dated July 23 and addressed "Dear Task Force Members." Pence chairs the task 
force. Troye opened the letter with praise for their dedication and commitment 
to "doing the right thing."

   A lifelong Republican, Troye said she plans to vote for Trump's Democratic 
challenger, Joe Biden, in November.

   The White House adamantly denied the exchange Troye described, with White 
House spokesperson Judd Deere saying "her assertions have no basis in reality 
and are flat out inaccurate."

   He further dismissed Troye as "disgruntled" and said she generally watched 
task force meetings from an overflow staff room and was never in private 
meetings with the president.

   "Ms. Troye is a former detailee and a career Department of Homeland Security 
staff member, who is disgruntled that her detail was cut short because she was 
no longer capable of keeping up with her day-to-day duties," added Keith 
Kellogg, Pence's national security adviser, who said Troye reported to him and 
never once expressed concern about the administration's response.

   Pence also pushed back, saying he hadn't read her comments "but it reads to 
me like one more disgruntled employee that has decided to play politics during 
election year."

   "I couldn't be more proud of the work we've done," he added.

   Trump himself told journalist Bob Woodward in recorded interviews that he 
intentionally downplayed the virus in public comments even though he was fully 
aware of the danger it posed. He is also a self-described germaphobe and 
denounced the practice of shaking hands before he ran for office.

   Republican Voters Against Trump is one of several groups trying to persuade 
Republicans and others who once supported the president to vote for Biden.

   "Never before have so many high-ranking staffers of an incumbent president 
opposed his reelection and endorsed his opponent," Sarah Longwell, the 
strategic director of Republican Voters Against Trump, said in a statement.

 
 
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