Nov 20, 2019

Obama aides dispute leaving Trump staff "you will fail" notes

Stephanie Grisham and President Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former President Obama's aides denied a claim made by Trump administration press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday that they left disparaging notes in the White House for incoming staff.

Driving the news: Grisham said in a radio interview that upon arriving at 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.'" She has yet to present evidence to support her claim.

What they're saying:

  • Chris Lu, who served as Cabinet Secretary in the Obama administration, tweeted: "This is absolutely not true. Obama repeatedly and publicly praised Bush cooperation during 2009 transition, and pledged we would provide same cooperation to whoever followed us. And that’s what we did."
  • Peter Velz, a press aide in the Obama administration tweeted the note he left his successor, saying it was "dispiriting to hear" from Grisham, "a person with whom I spent a couple amicable hours with during the the 2016 transition where I wished her nothing but institutional knowledge, good luck and all our support."
  • Valerie Jarrett, a former senior advisor to Obama, wrote, "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."
  • Ben Rhodes, who served as Deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communications, tweeted: "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."

Go deeper: Obama cautions 2020 candidates against going too far left

Go deeper

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