White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday that some of President Barack Obama’s departing staffers left behind taunting notes for Trump officials in 2017 such as “you will fail.”
“We came into the White House … 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,’ ” Ms. Grisham said on a radio interview.
Her comments prompted an outpouring of indignant denials by former Obama officials. Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice called it “another bald-faced lie.”
Former Obama Chief of Staff Valerie Jarrett challenged Ms. Grisham to produce the offending notes.
“I cannot imagine a single one of my former colleagues who would do this,” she tweeted.
A former Trump White House official told The Washington Times that he didn’t see any offensive notes when Trump staffers moved in on Inauguration Day in January 2017. But he said the Obama troops did leave behind some Russian vodka in a cabinet above a desk in the press office.
“As a joke,” he said, referring to the debunked allegations of Russia collusion. “But this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone complaining about a note.”
The White House press office on Mr. Trump’s first day was decorated with newspaper front pages praising Mr. Obama.
Ms. Grisham’s comments evoked memories of the transition between President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, when stories circulated that Clinton staffers had removed the “w” keys from numerous keyboards in White House offices.
At least two other Trump staffers reported finding nasty notes when they started work at the White House.
Joanna Rosholm, who served as press secretary for former first lady Michelle Obama, shared on Twitter the note she left for her successor in 2017.
“Welcome to the small family of White House staffers, past and present,” the note reads in part. “The bond we all share transcends politics. I want you to know that I am always available if you have questions, just as Mrs. Bush’s staff was for us.”
In a statement to reporters after her initial comments on WHKT-AM in Norfolk, Virginia, Ms. Grisham said the accounts by former Obama aides didn’t disprove hers.
“I’m not sure where their offices were, and certainly wasn’t implying every office had that issue,” Ms. 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.”
She added, “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.”