Olivia Troye lost an argument, and she was angry. The former homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence vehemently disagreed with a colleague during a meeting at the start of the pandemic and decided to take refuge in her office and let off some steam.
She queued up Taylor Swift and played the pop star’s music on top volume.
Then, a colleague knocked on her door.
“He said, ‘Are you trying to get fired?'” Troye told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last week, adding that she was confused by the question.
“For being blunt in meetings or for what?” she asked her colleague.
“I don’t think she’s a fan of Trump’s,” Troye said her colleague replied, referring to Swift. “And so, if somebody hears that, you should really watch your back. You should be careful on that.”
Troye’s comments followed a piece published Tuesday in the Atlantic by Jonathan Karl, ABC News’s chief Washington correspondent. The story chronicled the rise of Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal assistant turned head of the Presidential Personnel Office, and his oversight – and loyalty assessments – of employees during the administration’s final months.
Troye resigned from her role in the White House in August 2020 and endorsed Joe Biden for president. Pence’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, said he fired Troye. She is now the director of the Republican Accountability Project, an anti-Trump organization focused on defending democracy and holding those who tried to overturn the 2020 election accountable.
She has since been an outspoken critic of former president Trump, accusing him of caring more about his reelection and the economy than about people dying during the coronavirus pandemic.
During her appearance on Hayes’s show, Troye said she “chuckled a bit” when she read an anecdote in the Atlantic piece that referenced Swift. Karl described an incident in which Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, received a call after he’d requested information about an assistant at the Department of Housing and Urban Development who had liked one of Swift’s Instagram posts endorsing Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“We really can’t have our people liking posts promoting Joe Biden,” Meadows reportedly said.
Swift has made headlines in recent days following the Friday release of “Red (Taylor’s Version),” a rerecording of her 2012 album. She appeared on NBC’s late-night shows and premiered a short film accompanying the 10-minute version of fan-favorite song “All Too Well.” She also performed the song on “Saturday Night Live.”
The 11-time Grammy Award winner famously remained apolitical until the 2018 midterms, when she announced she was voting for Democrats to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate and House. In 2020, Swift tweeted of Trump in the months leading up to the election, “We will vote you out in November.”
Troye affirmed the Atlantic’s reporting that former Trump aides privately compared McEntee’s team to the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s secret police.
“This is sort of how this White House was run,” Troye said. “And that is what I fear for the future of our country.”
She added that the assertion that she could be fired over listening to Swift in the White House was “astonishing.”
“I’m allowed to listen to whatever music I want,” she said.