The White House has not held a press briefing since March of this year, more than 250 days ago. Current Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham has not herself held a single press briefing since getting the job in July.
That hasn’t stopped her from generating headlines, however, including on Tuesday when she made the claim that the outgoing staff of former President Barack Obama left a barrage of nasty notes and letters to the incoming Trump administration personnel.
Grisham reportedly said that the notes to the current president’s people included disparaging comments about the future staff’s work and ability to function under President Donald Trump’s leadership. The Obama staff also left behind pro-Obama books, Grisham said, according to reporting from NBC News.
“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,’” Grisham explained.
WH Press Sec Stephanie Grisham claims Obama aides left 'you will fail" notes in offices for Trump aides: “We came into the WH, 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,’”
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) November 19, 2019
Grisham provided no evidence to back her claim, which several former Obama administration officials said was not true.
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice called the accusations a “bald-faced lie.” And former National Security Council senior director Jon Wolfsthal attested that her assertions couldn’t be true. “I know,” Wolfsthal explained. “I handed over the nuclear office at the NSC.”
Other Obama aides provided proof of their well-wishes to the new staff. Former Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in penning a letter to Trump’s first press secretary Sean Spicer, shared a copy to news agencies showing that the outgoing administration was not spiteful.
“Because your work is essential to the success of our democracy, it is not hard for me to set aside my political views, and genuinely root for you to success in this role,” Earnest wrote.
Grisham later explained that her comments were not about every office in the administration (even though they originally said “every office”) but rather about her experience as press secretary for first lady Melania Trump.
“I was talking specifically about our experience in the lower press office — nowhere else,” Grisham said, per reporting from Slate. “I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive!”
No one has yet come forward with any evidence to back Grisham’s claims.