White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham revealed that aides to former President Barack Obama left disparaging notes in the West Wing offices after the administration transition.
“We had notes left behind that said, ‘You will fail, you aren’t going to make it,’” Grisham said Tuesday during an interview with Virginia radio host John Fredericks. “In the press office, there was a big note taped to the door that said, ‘You will fail.’”
Grisham’s claim sparked outrage from former senior Obama aides, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who called it a “bald-faced lie.”
This is another bald faced lie. https://t.co/E1U9KtdL77
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) November 19, 2019
Senior adviser to President Obama Valarie Jarret demanded Grisham produce the notes.
Produce the notes that back this up. I cannot imagine a single one of my former colleagues who would do this. From @BarackObama on down, we all tried to help facilitate a smooth and orderly transition just as President Bush and his team had done for us. https://t.co/tjY3zGdRX8
— Valerie Jarrett (@ValerieJarrett) November 19, 2019
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes also called it a lie.
This is a lie. If this happened I also don’t think the entire Trump staff would wait 3 years to tell us. Sad to see the WH press secretary fall this far https://t.co/4JMlk5Ok2J
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) November 19, 2019
Grisham specified afterward to CNN that the notes were left in the lower press office, but not elsewhere.
“At the time we saw it as kind of a prank and something that always happened,” she said.
Speechwriter aide to Obama Jon Favreau did not deny the messages but joked about it on Twitter.
It’s appalling that she thinks our notes would have been that lame. https://t.co/EZWFZYBgDA
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 19, 2019
I actually left an iPhone charger if anybody’s seen it, but no, nobody left unimaginative notes written at a sixth-grade level. https://t.co/DeaTk5W6wk
— Cody Keenan (@codykeenan) November 19, 2019
But none of those Obama aides were stationed in the lower press offices, where Trump staffers say the notes were found. (Grisham moved to the East Wing as the press secretary for Melania Trump and then to the upper press offices as press secretary for President Trump.)
Former White House press aide Michael Short also weighed in on Twitter to confirm that former Obama staffers left them “nasty grams.”
Stephanie is correct that there were nasty grams left in the press office. https://t.co/ipbVXvmKgc
— Michael C. Short (@michaelcshort) November 20, 2019
Short was stationed in lower press offices before he left the White House in July 2017 under then communications director Anthony Scaramucci.