“I'm pretty sure he has political aspiration for 2024. I'm not pretty sure, I know he does,” says Olivia Troye, who resigned from the administration this summer.

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Olivia Troye
Credit: NBC News

Olivia Troye was a seasoned Homeland Security official who worked under Vice President Mike Pence and was assigned to his coronavirus task force. In July, she made international news when she resigned from her post and denounced the administration's handling of the pandemic. (She said President Trump often did "the complete opposite" of what experts had advised him in an interview with NPR this fall.) Troye, who is now an adviser for Defending Democracy Together, admits that the life of a whistleblower can be lonely but wouldn't have it any other way. "If I was able to reach just some voters out there to really take a step back and really think about the future of our country, then I feel like I did everything I could," she says. "To me, that's what mattered."

Here are her thoughts on the January 6 attack on the Capitol and why she feels that the worst is yet to come.

If everybody knew the attack on the Capitol was coming, why do you think there wasn't more protection?

I think that that deserves a complete investigation because that is a massive national security failure. The Vice President and Speaker Pelosi and major leadership officials, the ones that lead our entire country were convened there. There is no excuse for what happened.  It also is an embarrassment to the national security community. What does it say to terrorists globally when a mob can show up and over run a fence? They left bombs. There were IEDs. They were not messing around.

You were still working at the White House in June when the President used force to clear out Black Lives Matter protesters so he could get a photo op in Lafayette Square, what was it like then?

I have pictures from around the White House that shows how fortified it was. It was over the top. When I walked around [outside] right before the Lafayette Square clearing, there were peaceful protesters. There was nothing violent about it. I was not worried. [I] saw the National Guard coming onto the grounds. I saw Secret Service getting ready with their riot gear. 

If you're going to prepare that much, and if you're going to deploy members of DHS, to various cities around the country because of the supposed threat of Antifa, what are you going to do for these people who basically just did a coup on the Capitol? It doesn't add up. I think there were people across the community who enabled this.

The Vice President was such a staunch Trump loyalist for so long, why do you think he finally held firm when the President asked him to overturn election results?

Well, one, it was his job. I hate to be negative about that, but his role is mostly ceremonial, he doesn't have the power to overturn the election. No matter what Donald Trump wants to rewrite history on and say that he does, the fact is it's procedural, and the Vice President knows that. But also, I believe that the Mike Pence that I got to know would be the Mike Pence that would uphold the Constitution. At the end of the day, this is really about our democracy.

And it was huge when I saw that Pence pushed back because he tends to be non-confrontational. But he's also very careful because in this White House, when you cross the President, you're voted off the island fast, and it's ugly. It's not like it's an understanding crowd, and saying, "Okay, we disagree, we have differences." No. It's, "We disagree and now there are people calling, saying they are wanting to hang Mike Pence." That is insane, I would say.

Will Pence invoke the 25th Amendment?  

The problem with Mike Pence is that he has been a longstanding Republican, and the Republican party right now, as we're seeing, has held the Trumpism part of it. And the Trump Republican party, as I call it now, that is the stronghold, and that's who has basically taken over the party. I keep hoping that Mike Pence will invoke the 25th amendment, but I think the only way he might even broach that topic, which I've seen that Cabinet members are talking about, is if the Cabinet backs him. If he has enough Republicans that come forward to tell him to do it. Because other than that, I'm pretty sure he has political aspiration for 2024. I'm not pretty sure, I know he does.

He has his own political agenda.

Right and we've seen there's a huge number of voters out there that still voted for Donald Trump, even after everything. If that is really the voting bloc, then I think that that's where Mike Pence is probably weighing how all of these actions impact him in 2024. I don't expect him to do anything more than he's already done ... because he is worried about that.

What was really horrifying to me was the next morning at the Republican National Committee meeting in Florida, Donald Trump went on virtually, and he had cheers and a standing ovation at a breakfast the very next morning. I think that says it all.

And in the midst of all of this, there's still the pandemic. 

And that's the worst part, right? The impact of what happened on the Hill with all of those mask-less people, the D.C. area will pay for that. So will other areas when all these people go home. They are going to spread the virus and carry it back to cities across America because they came from all over.

In your opinion, what else could happen leading up to the inauguration?

Apparently there are flyers that have been put out that they'll be back on January 17, where they're calling for violence again. My worry is for the people that are in leadership right now. We still have a bunch of enabling people at the senior ranks of the Trump administration who are complicit in this thing. So what will happen that day? That's the scariest part and the 17th is the day before Martin Luther King, that's not lost on me.  

And as of this morning, the articles of impeachment are moving forward.

Right. And they absolutely should. And I think Republicans should support it. Certainly, anyone who cares more about the country and the future of our country should get this done as soon as possible.

How does this Greek tragedy end?

I think it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I think it's incumbent on the Republicans, whatever is left of the good ones, to help Joe Biden succeed.  

What are your thoughts on the politicians who have resigned as a result of last week's riot?

On one hand, I'm glad that they are taking a stand, but I mean, 'Where were you?' These are the same people who also called me a traitor. So now what?

I know you were close with Dr. Fauci, are you still in touch? 

Yes. Our last correspondence was a happy birthday text because he just turned 80 years old. He said, "Olivia, thanks for the note. I hope that we get a chance to work together again. Merry Christmas, best regards, Tony." Isn't that sweet?

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.