On Wednesday, Olivia Troye, Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide on the White House’s ill-fated and much-maligned coronavirus task force, came out publicly against Donald Trump, and specifically his handling of the covid-19 pandemic. She’s going to be voting for Joe Biden, and she wants other Republicans to join her.
In an ad by the group Republican Voters Against Trump (good luck, truly!), Troye, a lifelong Republican, spells out all of the reasons why she cannot in good conscience vote for Trump this year. As a member of the task force from “day one,” she declares that by mid-February, the group was well aware of the coming crisis: “We knew it wasn’t a matter of if covid would become a big pandemic here in the United States, it was a matter of when.” But, she says, “[T]he president didn’t want to hear that, because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year, and how was this going to affect what he considered to be his record of success.”
None of this is particularly new information, but to hear it coming from the lips of a senior aide to Pence, who has first-hand experience of how Trump handled the covid-19 pandemic in private hits differently. And Troye doesn’t have an ax to grind or a book to sell, to boot.
“It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything’s okay when we know it’s not,” she added. “The truth is, he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.” In conclusion, she states, “I am voting for Joe Biden because I truly believe we are at a time of constitutional crisis. At this point, it’s country over party.”
Troye, in the video, also shares this “fun”—if wholly unsurprising—anecdote about our germophobe in chief, saying, “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.”
Whatever her politics—and I certainly side-eye her choice to work for Mike Pence of all people—Troye is, if somewhat belatedly, doing the right thing. And among the Republicans who have broken with Trump, she stands out as someone who is risking quite a bit more than others. As Susan Glasser wrote in the New Yorker, Troye “is young, only forty-three years old, with a long career ahead of her, and she was willing to put it all on the line publicly, whereas people like [Jim] Mattis and [John]Kelly were not.” Glasser added, “Troye, with much more to lose—and with none of the stature of a former member of Congress or a former Marine general—had much more courage than all of them. She went ahead when they have not, knowing that she would be attacked.”
And Troye has already been under attack, even by the vice president, a man she continues to say she holds an extreme amount of respect for. On Thursday, when asked by the Washington Post about Troye’s break, Pence described her as a “disgruntled employee” who “has decided to play politics during election year.” How lovely. Trump, for his part, pretended not to know her, according to the Washington Post: “I have no idea who she is. 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.”
But of course, Troye knows exactly what kind of person he is. I don’t know about you, but I’m sending Troye’s video to every Republican I know!