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President Trump in the Oval Office on Sept. 17. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Pence's former lead staffer on the White House coronavirus pandemic response announced on Thursday that she plans to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, accusing President Trump of taking actions "detrimental to keeping Americans safe."

What she's saying: "It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything's okay when we know that it not. The truth is that he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself," said Olivia Troye, Pence's former homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser.

  • Troye claims that Trump said in a White House task force meeting that "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."
  • "If the president had taken this virus seriously, or if he had actually made the effort to tell how serious it was, he would have slowed the virus spread, he would have saved lives," she said.
  • "It was the 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 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, 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, which is why you signed up for this role."

The other side: President Trump told reporters on Thursday that he never met Troye and he has "no idea who she is," per pool reporters.

  • White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that Troye "was never in private meetings with the President and her assertions have no basis in reality and are flat out inaccurate."
  • Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who currently serves as Pence's national security adviser, said in an emailed statement that Troye never expressed "any concern regarding the Administration’s response to the Coronavirus to anyone in her chain of command" during her detail.

Go deeper: The Washington Post first reported Troye's announcement.

Go deeper

Dec 25, 2020 - World

Chile becomes first South American country to start COVID vaccination

Nurse receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Santiago, Chile. Photo: David Lillo/Ministerio de Salud de Chile via Getty Images

Chile became the first country in South America to begin coronavirus vaccinations on Thursday after receiving its first 10,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses, Reuters reports.

The big picture: The country bought 10 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and is expected to receive 240,000 doses in January, per Reuters.

Dec 25, 2020 - Health

Scientists suspect compound in allergic reactions to Pfizer vaccine

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Scientists believe the compound polyethylene glycol — known as PEG — is to blame for the reported allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified six allergic reactions to the vaccine out of the 272,001 doses given through Dec. 19.

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.