White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, left, listens as President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019.
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

Trump’s press secretary points to dubious notes from Obama aides

Donald Trump’s press secretaries have struggled at times with notable claims that are literally unbelievable. Sean Spicer, for example, told the White House press corps, with confidence and certainty, that Trump’s relatively small inaugural crowd “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period.”

Several months later, Sarah Sanders told reporters that “countless” FBI agents had contacted the White House to say they’d lost confidence in James Comey. Sanders later admitted to federal investigators that she’d made that up.

But this morning, the president’s chief spokesperson – who still hasn’t held a press briefing, despite having been press secretary for nearly six months – offered a striking claim that may very well belong in the same category as Spicer’s and Sanders’ whoppers.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed on Tuesday that departing former aides to President Barack Obama left notes saying “you will fail” and “you aren’t going to make it” for the incoming staff of Donald Trump.

Former Obama aides quickly denied Grisham’s claim, reacting to a tweet from a CNN reporter that Grisham had said during an earlier radio interview, “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.’”

Generally speaking, between administrations, officials have been known over the years to pull assorted pranks on their successors. But what Grisham described sounded uglier: Obama administration officials leaving notes predicting Team Trump’s failure.

The trouble, of course, is that Grisham’s claim is extremely hard to believe. We know, for example, that a variety of prominent members of the Obama administration have already described the press secretary’s assertion as a lie.

What’s more, common sense should have some role in the conversation. If Obama administration left behind a series of nasty notes for Team Trump, wouldn’t someone have taken a picture or two? For that matter, wouldn’t they have said something sooner?

Grisham later clarified to NBC News that she didn’t mean literally “every office,” adding, “I was talking specifically about our experience in the lower press office – nowhere else. I don’t know why everyone is so sensitive!”

The clarification is helpful, though there’s still no reason to believe Obama-era officials left nasty notes behind in the lower press office.

As for “everyone” being “sensitive,” the White House press secretary may not fully appreciate Team Trump’s well-earned reputation for rampant, comprehensive dishonesty on practically every subject.

Grisham told CNN the other day, “I’ve given plenty of on the record statements that were truth and accurate.” If she wondered why so many people found that amusing, the press secretary may want to consider the reliability of quotes like the one she made this morning.