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Jack HolmesFri, September 18, 2020, 11:00 AM CDT- Esquire

Photo credit: TASOS KATOPODIS - Getty Images
Photo credit: TASOS KATOPODIS – Getty Images

Someone who left the president’s Coronavirus Task Force just two months ago(!) says he has “a flat-out disregard for human life.” This is not some anonymously sourced report: Olivia Troye was an adviser to Mike Pence for two years, and says she attended “every single meeting” of the White House pandemic task force from February to July. There are photos to prove it. She spoke to the Washington Post on the record.

Troye joins a growing list of people who worked directly with Donald Trump on a daily basis who have since publicly denounced him. The president’s former Secretary of Defense, for instance, declared him a threat to the Constitution. His former Secretary of State said he is “undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things.” His former chief of staff said that going forward, “I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

But it’s Troye who had a front-row seat to the greatest disaster of Trump’s presidency, his failed pandemic response. The United States is coming up on 200,000 deaths—very likely an undercount, based on excess deaths compared to the same period last year—which constitutes 21 percent of the world’s Covid-19 deaths spread across just over four percent of its population. By Troye’s account, this was primarily down to the fact that Trump did not care at all whether people got sick and died, and was more concerned with propping up the economy with an eye on the November election. That it was necessary to contain the virus to protect the economy was never going to make it into his brain.

Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alex Wong – Getty Images


This has been borne out by what we’ve learned just this week—that the United States Postal Service was set to send five masks to every American household back in April until the White House intervened. That the president’s political appointees have been meddling in CDC guidance, including the guidelines for testing, narrowing them in a clear attempt to line up with the president’s devout belief that less testing means fewer people actually have Covid-19. Meanwhile, if you actually want to contain the virus and open up the country more, you would be testing more—as both Trump’s White House, where people are tested incessantly, and major sports leagues have demonstrated. Oh, and if you’re looking for evidence the president has a “disregard for human life,” consider that he suggested in public on Wednesday that if you die in a “blue state,” it doesn’t really count.

And what Troye said about what’s happening internally certainly rings true.

Does this seem at all shocking? In a press briefing last week, he went on an extended rant about all the Fox News shows he’s pumping into his brain. Somehow, our president—who is working so hard!—says he found the time to watch eight hours of cable news in less than a day.

Trump, she said, usually was not focused on the virus but would often “blindside” the task force and administration officials with public comments, such as his support for the drug hydroxychloroquine, his Twitter attack on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the agency’s guidance on the reopening of schools, his skeptical comments about masks and his public musings about “herd immunity.” Many of his comments were the opposite of what had been discussed in the Situation Room, where task force meetings were often held, and were at odds with scientific recommendations or the administration’s own data…

…Advisers were afraid to express positions contrary to the president’s views because they feared a public denunciation or “that they would be cut out,” she said. … Trump rarely attended task force meetings and was briefed only on top-level discussions by Pence or the government’s public health officials. When Trump attended one meeting, Troye said, he spoke for 45 minutes about how poorly he was being treated by certain personalities on Fox News. “He spent more time about who was going to call Fox and yell at them to set them straight than he did on the virus,” she said.

Of course, the various White House spokespeople with whom the Post conferred dismissed Troye as a disgruntled former employee who’s lying. Pence himself dodged the issue, saying he hadn’t seen Troye’s comments “in detail,” while the president went with the tried-and-true Mariah Carey-style “I don’t know her.” It’s tempting to just accept that this is another Rorschach test, where the president’s fans will just process this as another lying Deep State operative trying to take him down, but it really is astonishing how many of the president’s former staffers and advisers have emerged publicly to say he cannot be re-elected for the sake of the country. Like with the long list of women who have publicly and on the record accused the president of sexual misconduct, we are supposed to believe they’re all lying and he’s the one telling the truth.


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