Ex-Pence aide: Task force knew coronavirus 'was going to be big' in late January

Former Vice President Pence's aide, Olivia Troye, said Tuesday that White House officials knew the coronavirus pandemic “was going to be big” as early as January.

“We certainly had a task force meeting and discussion where we had this conversation, that this was going to be big,” Troye told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “Late January we knew.”

Asked by Mitchell how she reacted to President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE’s repeated claims that the virus would “disappear,” Troye responded, “It was frightening. When you're the president, words matter.”

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Troye also told Mitchell that she had been present at a meeting in which Trump said the coronavirus pandemic was not necessarily a bad thing.

“I was sitting to the right of him. He said when you're a politician, you have to shake a lot of hands. You have to shake a lot of hands. And these people are disgusting. It's gross. And so maybe, COVID's probably a good thing, right? I don't have to shake hands. I don't have to do that anymore,” Troye told Mitchell. “And I can't imagine how any, honestly, normal human being would ever say that out loud in the middle of a pandemic.”

Troye added that she was moved to speak out because “I felt I needed to tell the truth about what was happening and what we were dealing with internally. Especially with the president who, you know, was very undermining about the work that was going on in the task force. I just felt that now it mattered more than ever.”

Pence has dismissed Troye as a “disgruntled employee,” saying last week “she made no comments like that when she was serving under our team here at the White House.”

Troye has said she will vote for Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE, citing the White House response to the pandemic.

"If the president had taken this 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," she said in an ad released by the group Republican Voters Against Trump.