Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, announced in a video released Thursday that she’s voting for Joseph R. Biden, saying she ultimately had trouble looking herself in the mirror while assisting the White House’s coronavirus response team.
Ms. Troye said President Trump’s overriding concern in the early days of the pandemic was how the health crisis would affect his re-election prospects.
“The truth is he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself,” she says. “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.’”
Ms. Troye’s testimonial is part of a broader effort from a group called Defending Democracy Together, which is trying to muster support from Republicans and conservatives for Mr. Biden.
Ms. Troye, a former advisor to Mr. Pence for homeland security and counterterrorism, said she put her “heart and soul” into the job.
“But at some point I would come home at night — I would look myself in the mirror and say, are you really making a difference? Does it matter?” she said. “Because no matter how hard you work and what you do, the president is going to do something that is detrimental to keeping Americans safe.”
Mr. Pence pushed back Thursday, saying Ms. Troye, who left the administration last month, sounded like a “disgruntled employee” who decided to play election-year politics.
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Mr. Pence’s national security advisor, said Ms. Troye reported to him and that she never expressed concern about the administration’s handling of the pandemic to anyone in her chain of command.
The White House released Ms. Troye’s resignation letter Thursday night, written less than two months ago, in which she expressed her admiration for the work of the coronavirus task force.
“I have witnessed first hand how dedicated and committed all of you have been to doing the right thing,” she wrote. “I will always be rooting for you knowing that you will continue to fight the good fight.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted, “Interesting departure letter from a disgruntled former detailee who typically sat in the overflow room of task force.”
Mr. Biden’s team has been trying to highlight cross-party support he’s getting from Republicans, but many of the high-profile names are former officials or elected leaders who have little relevance in Mr. Trump’s Republican party.
On-the-record testimonials from former members of the administration like Ms. Troye are comparatively rare.
Miles Taylor, a former deputy chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, has also become a prominent backer of Mr. Biden and has criticized Mr. Trump’s managerial style.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.