WASHINGTON - Vice President Mike Pence dismissed criticism from a former top aide who accused President Donald Trump of a "disregard for human life" during the coronavirus pandemic as the work of a "disgruntled employee" playing politics.
"It reads to me like one more disgruntled employee who has left the White House and now has decided to play politics during an election year," Pence told reporters during a meeting on the coronavirus response in nursing homes Thursday at the White House.
Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counter-terrorism and coronavirus adviser to Pence for two years, said in a video for the group Republican Voters Against Trump that the president's "biggest concern" was how the pandemic would affect his reelection campaign. Trump also said that the pandemic might be a "good thing" because he would not have to "shake hands with these disgusting people," said Troye, who endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Pence said that while he had not read her comments in detail, he was proud of the White House's response to the virus. He also said Troye had not communicated her concerns to other staff members while working in the administration.
"While some may want to play politics and say different things once they leave here than while they're here, we're going to stay focused," Pence said.
Troye joins a growing number of one-time administration officials, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who say the president failed to take the virus seriously in order to stop it from spreading.
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