Former Top Pence Aide Says Trump Saw Silver Lining on Covid: ‘I Don’t Have to Shake Hands With These Disgusting People’


Vice President Mike Pence’s former top advisor on Homeland Security claims she witnessed first hand President Donald Trump’s callous and dismissive response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including a moment where he allegedly claimed there was a silver lining to the new, virus-based social distancing restrictions: “I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.”

The aide, Olivia Troye, left the White House last month, and was serving as Pence’s top aide on the Covid response from the beginning of the outbreak last winter. A lifelong Republican, she has now joined an anti-Trump political group and says she will be voting for Joe Biden in November. Troye’s reversal, she claims, stems from watching Trump dedicate his primary focus to his political re-election chances rather than the public health crisis, a phenomenon that others like Bob Woodward have documented as well.

CNN’s Jake Tapper played several clips from a video that Troye’s group, Repair 45, posted online on Thursday. In it, Troye recounts her time in the inner circle of the White House strategy sessions about the pandemic — and adds in her critical take on the president’s conduct and rhetoric.

Towards the middle of February, we knew it wasn’t a matter of if covid would become a big pandemic, it was a matter of when. The president didn’t want to hear that because his biggest concern was we were in an election year and how was this going to affect what he considered his record of success. The truth is he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.

Troye also singled out a moment where Trump, a notorious germaphobe, reportedly looked on the bright side of the new, no-physical-touching rules put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus: he could avoid any contact with his supporters at rallies now.

When we were in a task force meeting, 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.

Troye goes on to say that if Trump had taken the virus seriously from the beginning, he could’ve saved lives.

Tapper said that CNN reached out for comment from the White House and got back a response from an unnamed senior White House official, who vehemently denied Troye’s account about Trump insulting his supporters as “disgusting.”

“I’ve known Olivia for two years. She was proud to work in this administration until things went sour when she departed at the end,” the official told CNN. “Despite her playing a largely administrative role on the task force we talked nearly daily early in the virus and she never once expressed concern about the administration’s handling and routinely claimed she ‘just wanted to do right by the vice president and the president.’ This is yet another example, the official says, of someone who had proximity to power yet didn’t use their voice to speak up at horrors they allegedly witnessed.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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