Obama staffers deny leaving ‘fail’ notes at WH, responding to Trump team’s claims originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed Tuesday that Trump staffers found taunting notes left by Obama White House staffers when administrations changed hands in January 2017.
“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 said Tuesday during an interview with the "John Fredericks Show," based in Norfolk, Virginia. "In the press office, there was a big note taped to the door that said, 'You will fail.'"
News of Grisham’s comments were first tweeted by CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip.
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
“It was sad. It was pathetic … but it just puts more fight in you," Grisham said in the radio interview.
Her claim brought strong denials former White House staffers, many taking to Twitter to insist they never left any negative notes.
“Another bald-faced lie," Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, said in a tweet.
Cody Keenan, an Obama speechwriter, tweeted that he left behind an iPhone charger, but that “nobody left unimaginative notes written at a sixth-grade level.”
He continued, “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."
Other Obama staffers posted notes they that they did leave their successors, with positive and encouraging messages.
“Welcome to the small family of White House staffers, past and present,” Joanna Rosholm, former press secretary to former first lady Michelle Obama, wrote. “The bond we all share transcends politics.”
Rice also wrote in her autobiography “Tough Love” that she left behind an encouraging note for her Trump administration successor, now former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“On a White House stationary card, I reiterated 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.
Grisham responded to the complaints after the interview in a statement.
"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 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
There is a history of White House “hijinks” during administration transitions. During the transition from the Clinton administration to the George W. Bush administration, Bush’s staff discovered Clinton officials had removed the “W” from keyboards in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
After leaving office, former President Barack Obama left a congratulatory note to incoming President Trump. Trump later told ABC News' David Muir that he found the note "beautiful."
Grisham’s comments come after she attempted to assert her credibility as press secretary after dealing with press questions about the president's unscheduled visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“I've given plenty of on the record statements that were truthful and accurate -- actively trying to find and report conspiracy theories really needs to stop," Grisham told CNN in a statement.
ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report