‘Horrified’: Insider’s Trump COVID reveal
A former White House insider and COVID task force member has revealed a series of failures from Donald Trump at the beginning of the deadly coronavirus pandemic while describing the US President as a "dictator in the making".
Former Homeland Security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and COVID task force adviser since day one, Olivia Troye, described the White House under Donald Trump as a "reality show" and revealed that in the early days of the pandemic, Mr Trump was warned that COVID-19 would be "worse than the flu", "more contagious" and potentially deadlier than any virus outbreak the world had seen before.
She told 60 Minutes Australia that Mr Trump, upon hearing the warnings, chose to "downplay" the virus from the very beginning and that due to his attitude, "too many lives to count" have been lost across America.
Ms Troye revealed major hiccups within the Trump administration since March, including examples of the covid task force not being consulted on major decisions, and doctors and experts being repeatedly ignored.
Mr Trump was "unwavering" in his determination to undermine doctors and counteract the task force's response to the growing pandemic behind the scenes, she said.
"We were up day and night trying to figure out how we were going to respond to this crisis and this threat and not a day went by where the President didn't do something that was counter-productive or undermining of all of the hard work going on behind the scenes for people that were actually really committed to trying to do good and do the right thing," she told American media in September.
More than 132,700 new cases were announced across the United States on Friday alone and more than 1000 deaths for the fourth straight day.
The United States has long been the worst-hit nation.
"I don't know that he listens to anyone but himself," Ms Troye told the program, describing how Mr Trump's inner circle feed his rhetoric and "encourage this type of behaviour".
"The President unfortunately goes along with it, he encourages it and he is supportive of this.
"Too many lives were lost to count, we shouldn't be in this situation we are in today.
"It's very unfortunate, it's going to be a dark winter for us. Any one who is watching this should be horrified."
Ms Troye was a member of the White House inner circle for two years, until July this year during the Lafayette incident when she resigned and spoke out against the administration over Mr Trump's handling of the pandemic.
White House officials contradict this, and say she was fired for a drop in performance on the COVID task force.
She said Mr Trump rarely attended coronavirus meetings but when he did, it was "perplexing" to watch him because he was so easily distracted.
She said it was "mind blowing" when Trump would spend 45 minutes ranting on unimportant issues instead of discussing how to safely evacuate Americans from cruise ships or other countries.
Typical of #WhiteHouse leadership to cover up #covid cases, not caring about the well being of the staff around them. They haven’t cared during the entire pandemic, so why start now? They certainly don’t care about the rest of America given that we are at >100k cases daily. https://t.co/4ZjNuI1Scz— Olivia of Troye (@OliviaTroye) November 7, 2020
Describing her choice to speak out as the "hardest decision I've ever had to make", the lifelong Republican said she did so because she needed to be able "to sleep at night" after watching firsthand as task force scientists were repeatedly undermined.
"This is the reality show that is the White House," she told 60 Minutes.
"I know that sounds so unbelievable, but it's the truth. There's not a single White House staffer that doesn't recognise that for reality, no matter what they say.
"Donald Trump is not a person you can control."
Ms Troye said she has lost friendships and is worried about the safety and security of her family for speaking out against Mr Trump.
"It's important, even if I reach one person even on the severity of the virus itself and what's at stake here, then I can live with that and that's OK," she said.
"It's actually horrifying to watch our leader of this country behave in such a manner, it's embarrassing.
"We're looking at Dictator Trump in the making."
Olivia Troye was a part of the Trump reality show as a member of the coronavirus task force and the Vice Presidents’ homeland security adviser. Now, @OliviaTroye has not only quit but beseeched Americans to vote for Joe Biden. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/9fZk7fxJWW— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) November 8, 2020
Ms Troye said the President was likely "losing it" and "throwing tantrums" over his election defeat.
"Honestly, behaving like an out of control teenager, he has a really hard time accepting the truth or reality, so I can't even imagine what his immediate staff and family are going through right now."
Just hours before the 60 Minutes interview aired in Australia, president-elect Joe Biden made his first national address since defeating Mr Trump, vowing immediate action to contain the United States' coronavirus crisis, signalling science would determine the national response once the President leaves the White House.
Mr Biden's pledge followed three days of record infections in the United States and came as the nation's death toll surpassed 237,000.
Critics of Trump have blamed this on his chaotic response, which has seen him discredit the top US infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, discourage face masks and speak at crowded campaign rallies.
Dr Fauci has repeatedly been at loggerheads with Mr Trump since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Most recently, Dr Fauci told The Washington Post that Americans were "in for a whole lot of hurt" heading into their winter season.
"It's not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly," he told the publication.
Just last week, Mr Trump joked about his plans to fire Dr Anthony Fauci if he won the election.
At Mr Biden's victory event, which took into account social distancing guidelines, the president-elect announced top scientists would be appointed to his coronavirus task force.
"On Monday I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris plan and convert it into an actual blueprint that will start on January 20, 2021," Mr Biden said.
Earlier in the day, he had emphasised the urgency of beating the pandemic.
"I want everyone, everyone, to know on day one we're going to put our plan to control this virus into action," Mr Biden said before he had been declared the winner.
Unlike Mr Biden, Mr Trump held massive campaign rallies ahead of the November 3 vote, insisting the US was "rounding the turn" despite the surge in infections.
Mr Trump was pulled off the campaign trail and flown to the Walter Reed military hospital in Maryland on October 2 after he tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently experienced difficulty breathing. He continued to campaign after he was discharged on October 5, boasting about his rapid recovery, with the 74-year-old describing himself as a "perfect physical specimen" and "extremely young" in an interview with Fox News.
Senior members of his administration have also contracted the virus recently. Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is the latest high profile staffer to have tested positive.
Reported coronavirus cases in the US this week:— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2020
Nov. 2: 86,589
Nov. 3: 91,910
Nov. 4: 104,296
Nov. 5: 121,289
Nov. 6: 126,731
These are not just the dying days of a one term presidency of Donald Trump, but to former Republican and White House staffer Olivia Troye, it would seem to be the death of dignity. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/FfPC30suUp— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) November 8, 2020
CNN host Chris Cuomo said Mr Meadows' diagnosis demonstrated Mr Trump's "nonchalance" towards the COVID-19 pandemic, even after the President himself - and a number of other White House staffers - testing positive back in October.
According to reports, Mr Meadows - who rarely wears a face mask - was not wearing one on election night at the White House, where he interacted not just with the President but Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, and Mr Trump's son, Donald Jr.
One White House aide told CNN that officials are now "alarmed", given Mr Meadows has been around other staffers and Mr Trump's family members while potentially contagious.
Originally published as 'Horrified': Insider's Trump COVID reveal