Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Olivia Troye, the former lead aide on Vice President Mike Pence's coronavirus task force who said she'd be voting for Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 US election, was "important to the team" and a "good person."
During an appearance on Chris Hayes' MSNBC program, Dr Fauci praised the former aide for her work on the coronavirus response team, but declined to further comment on her political stances.
"I interacted with Olivia, I liked her, she was a good person. she was important to the team as a staff person," Dr Fauci said. "But I don't know what to make of what's just come out recently."
The Washington Post reported that Ms Troye formerly worked as homeland security, counteterrorism and cornavirus adviser to Mr Pence. She claimed that during her two years in the position, she came to believe that Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic resulted cost American lives.
Nearly 200,000 Americans have died due to the coronavirus. US coronavirus deaths account for nearly 25 per cent of the world's virus-related death count, despite the US only representing four per cent of the world's population.
As a result, she said she will be voting for Mr Biden this November.
“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,” she said in an interview.
Ms Troye also said she would not take any coronavirus vaccination that emerges prior to the election.
"I would not tell anyone I care about to take a vaccine that launches prior to the election,” she said. “I would listen to the experts and the unity in pharma. And I would wait to make sure that this vaccine is safe and not a prop tied to an election.”
She had described herself as a lifelong Republican who voted on party lines prior to 2016. She claimed she did not vote for Mr Trump because she disliked his rhetoric. Despite her feelings for Mr Trump, Ms Troye said she still respects Mr Pence.
“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.”
Ms Troye is the latest former official to speak out against Mr Trump's leadership, joining the likes of former national security advisor John Bolton and former defence secretary Jim Mattis in condemning the president.
The White House dismissed Ms Troye's criticism. Retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellog, Mr Pence's national security adviser, issued a statement attempting to paint Ms Troye as a "disgruntled" ex-employee.
"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,” Mr Kellog said. “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.”
Likewise, the deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere dismissed Ms Troye's claims as "flat-out inaccurate."
Mr Pence, when asked about Ms Troye's criticism, similarly dismissed them as the rantings of a spurned ex-employee.
"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," he said.
Mr Trump's response was, predictably, to claim he had no idea who she was.