Trump press secretary backtracks claim Obama officials left 'You will fail' notes

Adam Gabbatt

The White House press secretary has backed down from her claim that Obama administration officials left behind notes for Trump staffers saying “You will fail” and “You aren’t going to make it”, after a number of aides denied the allegation.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Stephanie Grisham said she and her colleagues had encountered the notes upon entering White House offices.

“When we came into the White House, 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’,” she said. “In the press office, there was a big note taped to a door that said that ‘You will fail’,” Grisham told the John Fredericks Show.

Grisham retracted her claims, however, after a full-throated rejection from former Obama staffers.

“This is absolutely not true,” Chris Lu, a White House cabinet secretary in the Obama administration, wrote on Twitter.

“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. If Grisham is correct, why has it taken three years to come out?”

Susan Rice, who served as Obama’s national security adviser, was similarly dismissive.

“This is another bald-faced lie,” Rice wrote on Twitter.

Other Obama officials, including Joanna Rosholm, the former press secretary to Michelle Obama, posted photos of the notes they had left behind. None of the notes said “You will fail”.

Peter Velz, who worked as an assistant to the director of communications in the Obama administration, posted a photo of a note which said: “Best of luck to you and your team.”

After the backlash Grisham walked back from her initial remarks. She issued a statement saying the controversy was “silly” but did not expand on why she had made the claims.

“[I] certainly wasn’t implying every office had that issue,” Grisham said.

“I was talking specifically (and honestly) about our experience in the lower press office – nowhere else. I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive!”