Olivia Troye is a former national security and counterterrorism advisor to Vice President Mike Pence. Troye, who was heavily involved in the Coronavirus Task Force, was featured in an ad announcing that she was endorsing Biden because of what she saw of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In multiple interviews, including one with the Washington Post, Troye described herself as a lifelong Republican who grew disillusioned with what she could accomplish under Trump’s presidency.
Here’s what you need to know about the former aide:
1. Troye Grew up in Texas
According to Troye’s Facebook page, her nickname is “Liv” and her cover photo is a photo of her standing next to a mural with the letters “El Paso.”
The above photo of Troye is from the El Paso Times, which featured her along with 12 other participants in the LULAC Sweetheart Charity Ball held in February of 1995. Troye is described in the paper as a contestant and the “daughter of Marie and Raymond Mendoza.” The ball was for young women, ages 15-18, who were competing for scholarships.
Troye also appeared in a 2001 photo from the Austin American-Statesmen that described a Mardi Gras parade that went awry when rioters threw bottles and rocks; Troye is shown speaking to two Austin Police and wearing festive beads.
2. Troye Is a Lover of Dogs & Music
Troye’s dog, Ringo, is often featured on her Twitter feed. She has also retweeted posts encouraging people not to leave their pets behind during hurricane evacuations.
Describing herself on Twitter as a #musiclover, Troye has tweeted videos of herself attending concerts, such as this one of The Sisterhood Band. According to her page, Troye is also a fan of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, tweeting out a photo of Captain Alex Ovechkin’s jersey.
In 2019, Troye also tweeted that she was on a flight in Ethiopia during the same week that 157 people lost their lives on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, as the New York Times reported. “My thoughts & prayers are with the friends & families of those whose lives were lost on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. I was just in Ethiopia this week & flew @flyethiopian yesterday, back to DC. I am deeply saddened & heartbroken over this tragic incident. #EthiopianAirlines.”
3. Troye Worked Under Multiple Presidents
According to The New Yorker, Troye’s first job after college was at the Republican National Committee. She was inspired into a life of public service by the September 11 terrorist attacks and worked as an appointee at the George W. Bush Administration’s Pentagon.
The Washington Post reported that Troye was an intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security under Obama’s presidency and for the first 18 months of Trump’s presidency before she became a part of Pence’s staff.
According to NPR, Troye had worked for Vice President Mike Pence for two years.
The Post reported that Troye’s last months at the White House were spent on the Coronavirus Task Force, which was led by her boss, Pence. The Post reported that she helped organize meetings from February to July, helping Pence establish meeting agendas, write briefings and stay abreast of the growing pandemic.
4. Troye Endorsed Biden in a Scathing Review of Trump’s Handling of Coronavirus
In a detailed interview with the Washington Post, Troye said that Trump regularly made statements to the public that were in total opposition to the scientific evidence discussed at task-force meetings.
She said that Trump would “blindside” members of that task force by tweeting disparaging comments about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, throwing out the (now-discredited) drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential vaccine and his weak endorsements of — and often outright hostility towards — mask-wearing. “The mask issue was a critical one. If we would have gotten ahead on that and stressed the importance of it, we could have slowed the spread significantly,” Troye told the Post. “It was detrimental that it became a politicized issue. It still lingers today.”
Troye also criticized the culture of infighting that developed behind the scenes, telling the Post, “At some point, every single person on the task force has been thrown under the bus in one way or another. Instead of being focused on the task at hand, people were constantly wondering what was going to drop next or when you’re going to get reprimanded or cut out of a process for speaking out.”
Ultimately, Troye blamed Trump for having a COVID-19 response that she called “a failure”:
The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus have made this ongoing response a failure.
The Washington Post reported that Troye didn’t blame Pence, but did say she regretted some of her actions in perpetuating arguments that the virus was not as serious as originally thought. “I still have a lot of respect for the vice president,” she said. “I worked very loyally for him to do everything I could for him. I don’t want this to become a speaking-out-against-him thing.”
Troye recently appeared in a roughly 2-minute ad run by the anti-Trump group called Republican Voters Against Trump. The video criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; here is the transcript:
I am Olivia Troye. I was a homeland security advisor and counterterrorism advisor to Vice President Pence￼. As Vice President Pence’s lead staff member on the COVID-19 response. You know, I have been on the COVID task force from day one. I mean, the virus was very unpredictable at the beginning, there were a lot of unknowns. But towards the middle of February, we knew that it was not a matter of if COVID would become a big pandemic here in the United States, it was a matter of when.￼ But the president did not want to hear that because his biggest concern was that we were in a reelection year and how is this going to affect what he considered to be his record of success.
It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything was OK when we know that it is not. The truth is that he does not actually care about anyone else but himself. He made a statement once and that was very striking, I never forgot it because it pretty much defined who he was. When we were in a task force meeting, the president said, “Maybe this COVID 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. These are the people still going to his rallies today who have complete faith in who he is. If the president (had) taken the virus seriously or if he had actually made an effort to tell how serious it was, he would have slowed the virus spread, he would have saved lives.
It was an opportunity and honor of a lifetime to be able to serve in the White House. I put my heart and soul into this role every single day, but at some ￼￼points, I would come home at night and I would look at myself in the mirror, and say, are you really making a difference? Does it matter? Because no matter how hard you work, no matter what you do, the president is going to do something that is detrimental to keeping Americans safe which is why are you signed up for this role. It was awful. It was terrifying.
I have been a Republican for my entire life. I am a McCain Republican. I am a Bush Republican. And I am voting for Joe Biden because I truly believe that we are in a time of constitutional crisis. At this point, it’s country over party.
After leaving the White House, Troye started working at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, CNN reported. The cable station also reported that she joined an anti-Trump group called the “Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform” (REPAIR).
5. Members of the Trump Administration Have Refuted Troye’s Claims
Upon leaving the White House, NPR reported that Troye sent a letter, where she did not mention Trump, but said, “Supporting the Vice President in leading all of you on this effort has been the experience of a lifetime.”
Pence’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, released a statement reported by the Washington Post:
Ms. Troye is a former detailee and a career Department of Homeland Security staff member, who is disgruntled that her detail was cut short because she was no longer capable of keeping up with her day-to-day duties. Ms. Troye directly reported to me, and never once during her detail did she ever express any concern regarding the Administration’s response to the Coronavirus to anyone in her chain of command. By not expressing her concerns, she demonstrated an incredible lack of moral courage.
According to the Post, when Pence was asked about Troye’s comments, he said, “I haven’t read her comments in any detail. But it reads to me like one more disgruntled employee that has decided to play politics during an election year.”
Trump also dismissed the accusations, saying, “I have no idea who she is,” he told reporters. “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,” according to the Post.”
Troye told the Washington Post, that she fears retribution. “Honestly, I am scared,” she said. “I have never done anything like this.”