Ex-White House Coronavirus Task Force member: Trump is focused on his 'personal agenda,' not Americans

Donald Trump at his June rally in Tulsa.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

President Trump is actively "undermining" the guidelines developed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Olivia Troye, Vice President Mike Pence's former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, told Andrea Mitchell in an interview that aired on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News.

Before resigning in July, Troye was a member of the task force, and she said staffers were "scared" to attend President Trump's Tulsa rally because they knew people wouldn't be social distancing. The event was held inside and Trump didn't wear a mask, but none of this surprised Troye. "He's not actually looking out for you," she said. "He's not looking out for these people. He's not looking out for them. He just wants you in that audience so he can have the camera shot of ... his fanfare and the people around him. But the truth is, he's putting those lives at risk."

It was "very challenging" working on the task force, Troye said, because "suddenly the course of what we were doing had changed because that wasn't really what the president wanted. It's very hard when you're trying to actually base things on facts and science and on the data to have a president that wasn't focused on that." Instead, Trump was "really focused on public image, messaging, and it was really more about ... his personal agenda than really the agenda that the task force had at hand, which was how are we going to save and protect Americans?"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

A lifelong Republican, Troye revealed last week in a Republican Voters Against Trump ad that she is voting for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The White House has accused Troye of being disgruntled, and Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, said on Tuesday he "fired her" and claimed what "she has said, I have never heard." On Twitter, Troye said Kellogg "is telling a bald-faced lie to protect the president. I resigned on my own accord & was asked to stay. He never escorted me out. He knows this. I wrote a note thanking all the colleagues who had worked so hard with me in spite of POTUS & I stand by that."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.