White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters that aides to former President Barack Obama left “you will fail” notes around the White House.
The startling claim was made on Tuesday morning, according to CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip.
“We came into the White House, I’ll tell you something,” Grisham said. “Every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail,’ ‘you aren’t going to make it.'”
WH Press Sec Stephanie Grisham claims Obama aides left 'you will fail" notes in offices for Trump aides: “We came into the WH, I’ll tell you something. Every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail,’ ‘you aren’t going to make it,’”— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) November 19, 2019
Immediately, her comments received pushback from former Obama aides who characterized the story as an absurd lie.
“This is another bald faced lie,” former national security advisor Susan Rice said.
Jon Wolfsthal, the former senior director of the National Security Council, said it was “shameless and disgusting” and that Grisham should be fired.
Valerie Jarret, a senior advisor to Obama, insisted Grisham “produce the notes that back this up” and said the Obama team “tried to help facilitate a smooth and orderly transition just as President Bush and his team had done for us.” She also shared a picture of her empty office on her last day with no “Obama books” or mean notes, and said Grisham should ask White House advisor Kellyanne Conway how Jarret treated her.
As the story exploded, Grisham issued a statement clarifying her comments but also doubling down on the claim.
“I’m not sure where their offices were, and certainly wasn’t implying every office had that issue,” Grisham said. “In fact, I had a lovely note left for me in the East Wing, and I tracked the woman down and thanked her. I was talking specifically (and honestly) about our experience in the lower press office — nowhere else. I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive!”
Grisham response to former Obama staffers pushing back on her comments that nasty notes were left behind during the transition: “I was talking specifically (and honestly) about our experience in the lower press office – nowhere else.” pic.twitter.com/gyq8TygTmR— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 19, 2019
Other Obama staffers were even less cordial about the claims, quipping that if Trump’s team had actually read the notes that were left behind they wouldn’t be so incompetent at their jobs.
Grisham has not brought forward any evidence to back up what she said, and several D.C. beat reporters expressed their doubts, too.
“It is a little strange they weren’t leaked given everything else leaked in the first six months,” Axios reporter Jonathan Swan said. “I’d like to see them.”