Former Pence adviser Olivia Troye has said concern over President Donald Trump’s attempts to politicize the COVID-19 vaccine approval process is among the top reasons that she finally resigned from her post in the Trump administration in July.
“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,” Troye told The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser in an interview published early Friday.
Troye was a lead staffer on the coronavirus task force and is among the first who worked directly on the White House’s COVID-19 response to formally speak out. Troye told the New Yorker that she did not trust Trump to make the right decision for the health and safety of Americans amid his ongoing pressure campaign for a vaccine to be approved before the November election.
Glasser told CNN’s Don Lemon late Thursday that during her interview with the ex-Pence adviser, Troye had “reiterated to me that she was very worried they would apply political pressure to have the appearance of a vaccine before the election and to interfere in ways that could compromise people’s health.”
“For him, it was all about the election,” Troye told The New Yorker. “He just can’t seem to care about anyone else besides himself.”
The New Yorker interview also reveals that, according to Troye, on several occasions the President, fixated on news coverage of himself, refused to consider urgent task force issues and opted instead “to talk about himself and a preferred news network and how upset he was with them, instead of focusing on the agenda at hand.”
As the President was transfixed by this or that cable news hit, nearly 200,000 people in the United States have died due to COVID-19.
“She wants people to take a vaccine,” Glasser said in her assessment of the staffer who departed the White House only weeks ago, adding that Troye wanted to make sure the administration was “not interfering and she felt that that was a real possibility.”
The news comes as prominent figures in the scientific community scramble to recapture public trust around the integrity of the vaccine approval process. Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an MSNBC interview Thursday that he was willing to take the heat if the COVID-19 vaccine proved faulty, adding that the National Institutes of Health are “very adamant” to keep politics out of the process of determining the safety and efficacy of any potential vaccine.
Troye appeared in a video produced by Republican Voters Against Trump released Thursday where she endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president. In the clip, Troye says that early on in the crisis, Trump suggested to task force members that perhaps the pandemic was a good thing since it meant he would no longer have to shake hands with the “disgusting people” at his rallies and other events.
Pence has called the self-described lifelong Republican who also served as a Pentagon appointee in the Bush administration, “one more disgruntled employee,” who is using her departure from the White House to “play politics during an election year.”