White House staff discussed the issue of President Donald Trump refusing to accept the results of the upcoming election were he to lose power in November, according to a former aide Vice President Mike Pence.
Olivia Troye, former counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to the vice president and an ex-member of the White House coronavirus response task force, warned Americans to take the president at his word when he did not commit to a peaceful transition of power during a press briefing last week.
“You know, the president, when he's joking – if he says that he's joking, he's telling you a half-truth and in there is something fairly frightening and scary,” Ms Troye told CNN’s Wolfe Blitzer in an interview on Friday. “What you see is what you get … you should trust that. He doesn’t hide it.”
“It’s actually frightening to me because, to be honest, during my tenure at the White House I had conversations behind closed doors with White House staffers and other government officials — including people in the intelligence community — where we’ve actually discussed ‘what if,’” she added. “‘What if he loses and refuses to leave, or or better yet, what if his plan is four more years of Donald Trump should he win, and will he even leave after that?”
Her comments come after the president stirred controversy during a White House press briefing on Wednesday in which he said “we’re going to have to see what happens” when asked whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he were to lose the election.
Mr Trump appeared to then reignite his unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding mail-in voting, a point the president has hammered home as critical battleground states across the country expand absentee and mail-in voting options due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster," the president said. "Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very a peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”
The president’s statement caused a firestorm of backlash, prompting White House staff and Republican leaders in Washington to release statements reassuring the public the November election would result in a peaceful transition of power — a foundation of the United States government that has withstood centuries.
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement posted to Twitter.
A day after the president made the controversial comments, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters: “The President will accept the results of a free and fair election.”
The White House has also sought to undermine new interviews featuring Ms Troye, who has begun speaking out against the administration and sharing her reported experiences about what happened the West Wing under Mr Trump as she saw it.
Retired General Keith Kellogg, who previously served as Ms Troye’s boss in her post at the White House, claimed she was a disgruntled former employee who he personally scored out of her her offices on the White House campus after she was fired from her job.
Ms Troye shot at back those claims, instead telling CNN that she resigned and was asked to stay in her role by multiple colleagues.
"I'd love to see the video footage of this video tape where he supposedly escorted me out," she said. "I know a lot of the Secret Service people on the campus, and I would love to see that footage."