White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed without evidence that Obama staffers left notes for Trump aides saying 'You will fail'

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesStephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, in the Oval Office.
  • The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, claimed without evidence that former President Barack Obama’s White House staffers left discouraging notes for their successors in the Trump administration.
  • In a tweet on Tuesday, Abby Phillip, a CNN correspondent, quoted Grisham as saying that when Trump administration staffers moved in to the White House, “every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail’ and ‘you aren’t going to make it.'”
  • A host of former Obama aides denied Grisham’s claim, calling it “an outrageous lie” and, in some cases, saying they instead left encouraging notes for President Donald Trump’s aides.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, claimed without evidence that former President Barack Obama’s White House staffers left discouraging notes for their successors in the Trump administration with messages like “You will fail.”

In a tweet on Tuesday, a CNN correspondent, Abby Phillip, quoted Grisham as saying that when the Trump administration staffers moved in to the White House, “every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail’ and ‘you aren’t going to make it.'”

A host of former Obama aides denied Grisham’s claim, accused her of lying, and in some cases, argued they instead left encouraging notes for President Donald Trump’s aides.

“This is an outrageous lie,” said Jon Wolfsthal, a senior director on the National Security Council under Obama. “I know. I handed over the nuclear office at the NSC. Shameless and disgusting. @PressSec should be fired.”

Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, called Grisham’s comment “another bald faced lie.”

Phillip pointed out that Rice wrote in her latest book, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” that she left a note offering her help to Trump’s first national security adviser.

Rice wrote of the note: “On a White House stationary card, I reiterate my best wishes for his success in a job so crucial to the nation’s security. I offer to help him, if ever I could.”

Ned Price, a former CIA intelligence officer, tweeted that Grisham was “right about one point.”

“I left a note – tucked away in my desk – for my successor. I wished him success and encouraged him not to grow jaded despite the pace and obstacles. I also left my personal email in case he wished to seek candid advice,” Price said. “I never heard from him.”

Several White House reporters, including Phillip, also voiced scepticism about Grisham’s comment, noting that Grisham offered no evidence to support her claim.

“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,” the Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted. “Would love to see a copy of these ‘you will fail’ notes.”

Grisham later told NBC News that nasty notes were left only in the White House Press Office.

“I 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 about our experience in the lower press office – nowhere else. I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive!”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.