Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he knew former Pence aide Olivia Troye and said she was "important" to the coronavirus task force.
Troye spoke in a scathing ad released Thursday, condemning President Donald Trump and his administration for their response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Fauci declined to comment on the ad, but he described Troye as "important to the team."
"I interacted with Olivia. I liked her, she was a good person," Fauci said. "She was important to the team as a staff person to the Coronavirus Task Force, but I don't know what to make of what has come out recently. It would be very difficult for me to comment on that."
"The only thing I can say is that there are a lot of people who are looking carefully and are driven by the truth," the infectious disease expert continued. "I think the American people should feel confidence in that — that a lot of people are looking at this very, very carefully to make sure that there's not political things that drive what should be scientific considerations."
Fauci has largely avoided offering input on the politicization of the virus and has rarely rebuked the president, despite Trump's attacks on the infectious disease expert and his expert advice throughout the pandemic.
Prior to stepping down in late July, Troye served as Vice President Mike Pence's homeland security adviser and his lead coronavirus staff member on the White House coronavirus task force.
"Towards the middle of February, we knew it wasn't a matter of if COVID would become a big pandemic here in the United States, it was a matter of when," Troye said in the ad run by a group called Republican Voters against Trump. "But the President didn't want to hear that, because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year."
She claimed that, during a task force meeting, Trump said, "Maybe this COVID thing is a good thing. I don't have to shake hands with these disgusting people," adding that she was a "John McCain Republican" and a "George Bush Republican" and endorsed Joe Biden for president.
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