Former Barack Obama aides have hit out at Donald Trump's press secretary Stephanie Grisham after she accused previous White House workers of leaving behind poison pen notes for their successors to find, warning: “You will fail.”
“We came into the White House, I’ll tell you something,” Ms Grisham told reporters on Tuesday morning, remembering the transition period of January 2017 when she was a deputy to Sean Spicer. “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’.”
The timing of her unfounded claim, first reported by CNN’s Abby D Phillip, left little room for doubt that it was intended as a distraction.
Grisham was speaking just as the House impeachment inquiry was sitting down to hear the testimony of National Security Council (NSC) official Lt Col Alexander Vindman and vice presidential adviser Jennifer Williams, both of whom had heard the president’s 25 July call with Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which he appeared to ask for an investigation into his domestic political rival Joe Biden.
When the quote was shared on social media, indignant former members of the Obama administration were quick to deny the allegation.
“This is another bald faced lie,” tweeted ex-national security adviser Susan Rice. In her memoir Tough Love, Rice states that she actually left a note for her short-lived successor Michael Flynn that wished him “success in a job so crucial to the nation’s security” and offered her services and expertise should he need help.
Ned Price, previously an NSC spokesman and special assistant to President Obama, said he too had left a note but never received a reply. “She’s right about one point,” Mr Price said. “I left a note – tucked away in my desk – for my successor. I wished him success and encouraged him not to grow jaded despite the pace and obstacles. I also left my personal email in case he wished to seek candid advice. I never heard from him.”
Ex-Obama speechwriter and Pod Save America host Jon Favreau joked: “It’s appalling that she thinks our notes would have been that lame.”
Also outraged was White House lawyer Daniel Jacobson, who tweeted: “I was there. 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.”
Jon B Wolfstahl, former senior director of the NSC, even called for Grisham to be dismissed. “This is an outrageous lie,” he tweeted. “I know. I handed over the nuclear office at the NSC. Shameless and disgusting. @PressSec should be fired.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies