WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday that Obama administration aides left behind taunting notes for incoming Trump officials when they handed over their offices in 2017. Numerous Obama aides denounced the accusation as fiction.
“We came into the White House. 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,’” Grisham told conservative radio show host John Fredericks in an interview Tuesday.
Grisham later backtracked and said the nasty notes were left only in one part of the White House that houses press operations.
Some high-profile Obama administration officials flatly denied the claim, including former national security adviser Susan Rice.
“This is a bald faced lie,” Rice wrote on Twitter.
Grisham’s complaint came as House Democrats held a third day of public impeachment hearings.
Obama speechwriter Cody Keenan tweeted that he left behind an iPhone charger, but that “nobody left unimaginative notes written at a sixth-grade level.”
“I mean, if they read the ‘how to do your job’ memos and briefing books we actually left, they’d at least know how to write a coherent speech, vet their appointees, and maybe fewer of them would be indicted or heading to jail,” Keenan jabbed.
Another Obama speechwriter, Jon Favreau, and Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also pushed back against Grisham’s claim.
Grisham, who first worked as an adviser to first lady Melania Trump, said after the radio interview that she found a “lovely note” from her predecessor in the East Wing.
“I was talking specifically (and honestly) about our experience in the lower press office – nowhere else,” Grisham said. “I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive. At the time we saw it as kind of a prank, and something that always happened. We were so busy trying to learn where the bathrooms were and how to turn on the lights, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Grisham’s predecessor in the East Wing posted on social media the note she left behind for Grisham.
“Welcome to the small family of White House staffers, past and present,” Joanna Rosholm wrote. “The bond we all share transcends politics.”
Pranks or mean jabs have certainly happened in the past.
Aides in the George W. Bush administration reported inheriting government computers from the Bill Clinton administration with missing “W” keys and finding Gore presidential campaign stickers affixed to government property.
But Obama officials insisted they knew of no mean-spirited hijinks.
Rice wrote in “Tough Love” that she left behind an encouraging note for her Trump administration successor, Michael Flynn.
“On a White House stationery card, I reiterate my best wishes for his success in a job so crucial to the nation’s security. I offered to help him, if ever I could,” Rice wrote.
Follow Aamer Madhani on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@AamerISmad