White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is coming under fire for a claim she made on Tuesday that former aides to President Barack Obama left nasty notes throughout the White House for incoming staff of Donald Trump.
Grisham’s claim was published by CNN reporter Abby Phillip, who reported Grisham’s statement, then, in a separate tweet, asked why it had never been mentioned before.
“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,'” Phillip wrote on Twitter.
The claim drew immediate pushback both from journalists and from former Obama officials. Many asked Grisham why the claim was not mentioned at any time during the last three years, insinuating the falseness of the statement. Others noted that Trump has frequently lobbed criticism at his predecessor and made baseless accusations against Obama. Therefore, it seemed unlikely that he would have kept quiet about such an act. Phillip herself questioned why it would not have been reported before Grisham, who took over her position from Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
When Politico reporter Christopher Cadelago questioned why no one would have kept these notes, Phillip agreed that the story did not add up.
“Seems unlikely!” she responded on Twitter.
Interesting. Over the past 2.5 years I’ve heard no end of complaints from Trump officials about their Obama predecessors but never has this remarkable detail been mentioned. Would love to see a copy of these “you will fail” notes. https://t.co/BdvIHXaYaq
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) November 19, 2019
The claim also earned pushback from a number of members of the Obama administration, who said that nothing like what Grisham had described ever happened. Susan Rice, former National Security Adviser and U.S. ambassador, said it was a “bald faced lie.” John Wolfsthal, who noted that he was in charge of transitioning the nuclear office at the National Security Council, said it was an “outrageous lie” and called for Grisham to be fired.
“Shameless and disgusting,” he wrote.
Others noted that Obama had previously praised President George W. Bush for his efforts to make a smooth transition for him in 2009 and that Obama instructed his staff to do the same for Trump. Obama and Trump famously met in the White House in the days after the 2016 presidential election and again spent time together in the White House on the day of Trump’s inauguration. Nowhere in that time or afterward did Trump or anyone else report on receiving nasty notes or any other kind of difficulties from the Obama administration.