Obama aides deny they left behind nasty notes when they departed White House — in 2017

Alumni of the Obama administration reacted with disbelief and outrage to a claim from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham that incoming Trump administration officials found insulting notes left behind for them in their offices.

“We came into the White House, I’ll tell you something,” said Grisham during a local radio interview Tuesday morning, as reported by CNN’s Abby Phillip. “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.’” 

She didn’t elaborate on what she meant by “Obama books.”

In the nearly three years since the presidential transition, no Trump administration officials have mentioned the notes or produced any photos that would support Grisham’s charge. 

“This is another bald faced lie,” wrote Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser. 

In a statement to NBC News responding to Rice’s tweet, Grisham clarified her statement, stating that she didn’t mean to suggest that the notes were left in every White House office, only in a press area.

“I’m not sure where her office was, and I certainly wasn’t implying every office had that issue,” Grisham wrote, referring to Rice’s office. “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!”

Additional officials who worked across the Obama administration strongly disputed Grisham’s claim on Twitter.

“100% false,” wrote Liz Allen, who worked as a deputy communications director. “I left a note wishing them good luck serving the American people and offering to be a resource.”

“This is a lie,” wrote Ben Rhodes, a foreign policy adviser for Obama. “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.” 

“I was there,” wrote Daniel Jacobson, who worked in the White House counsel’s office. “This is a complete and utter lie. Quite the opposite — we left them briefing books to try to help with the transition as much as possible.”

Related: Stephanie Grisham in her White House role

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Stephanie Grisham in her White House role
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 9 : Director of Communications for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham follows President Donald J. Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and son Barron Trump as they walk to Marine One to depart from the South Lawn at the White House on Friday, March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20 : Stephanie Grisham, Press Secretary and Communications Director for the First Lady Melania Trump, talks on the phone before President Donald J. Trump arrives to pardon Peas the turkey during the presentation of the National Thanksgiving turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Stephanie Grisham (L) and Britain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove (2L) arrive through the East Gallery during a State Banquet in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace in central London on June 3, 2019, on the first day of the US president and First Lady's three-day State Visit to the UK. - Britain rolled out the red carpet for US President Donald Trump on June 3 as he arrived in Britain for a state visit already overshadowed by his outspoken remarks on Brexit. (Photo by Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read VICTORIA JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 03: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Stephanie Grisham, Press Secretary and Communications Director to U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to U.S. President Donald Trump look out of a window of Buckingham Palace during the Ceremonial Welcome in the Buckingham Palace Garden for US President Donald Trump on day 1 of his State Visit to the UK on June 3, 2019 in London, England. President Trump's three-day state visit will include lunch with the Queen, and a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, as well as business meetings with the Prime Minister and the Duke of York, before travelling to Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 24 : Assistant to President Donald Trump and Counselor to the President Johnny DeStefano and Press Secretary and Communications Director for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham follow President Donald J. Trump as they walk from the Oval Office to board the Marine One helicopter to depart from the South Lawn of the White House on Friday, Aug 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
U.S. first lady Melania Trump’s Communications Director Stephanie Grisham works on her smartphone as she stands on the White House colonnade before an event to celebrate the anniversary of first lady Melania Trump's “Be Best” initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talks with U.S. first lady Melania Trump’s Communications Director Stephanie Grisham on the White House colonnade before an event to celebrate the one year anniversary of first lady Melania Trump's “Be Best” initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Since taking office, President Trump has frequently complained about the “mess” he inherited from his predecessor, but generally in reference to domestic and international policy, not the conditions of the offices in the White House.

report from the General Accounting Office in 2002 concluded that outgoing Clinton administration officials had caused damage amounting to $13,000 to $14,000 to White House offices before George W. Bush’s inauguration, including by removing the “W” keys from keyboards.

Grisham was named press secretary this summer, moving over from the office of the first lady after a history of misstatements. Grisham provided false information in 2018 about a controversial jacket worn by first lady Melania Trump and misstated the day of Trump’s 2016 visit to Scotland, which he claimed took place before the vote on the Brexit resolution but was actually the day after. Grisham’s predecessor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was found in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to have lied about the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Sanders’s predecessor, Sean Spicer, provided conflicting information on Comey’s May 2017 termination.

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