White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant days ago, told reporters on Monday that "calls for harassment and a push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable."
She was referring to comments from Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who previously has called for President Donald Trump's impeachment. Waters told supporters, "If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them, and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."
The most prominent Democrat in the House of Representatives, however, disagreed with Walters.
"Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable," Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter on Monday. "As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea."
Pelosi's tweet included a link to a CNN story about Waters encouraging harassment of Trump administration officials.
Trump also responded to Water's remarks, saying on Twitter that the congresswoman — whom he referred to as an "extraordinarily low IQ person" — had called for his supporters to be harassed. In the social media message, the president concluded, "Be careful what you wish for Max!"
Last week, protesters yelled at Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen at an upscale Mexican restaurant near the White House. Earlier, Nielsen publicly defended the policy of separating children from parents who were apprehended for illegally entering the U.S., a policy the president has since reversed.
Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller, also an immigration hard-liner, was called a "fascist" while dining at a Mexican cantina in a neighborhood in the District of Columbia.
The incident involving Sanders took place Friday night at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, 300 kilometers south of the U.S. capital.
"I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion and cooperation," owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post, adding she believed Sanders works for an "inhumane and unethical" administration.
Wilkinson said some members of her staff are gay, and she cited the Trump administration’s stance barring transgender people from serving in the military.
Trump criticized the small, rustic restaurant Monday on Twitter, calling it "dirty."
At the top of Monday's briefing at the White House, Sanders explained that "my husband and I politely left and went home. I was asked to leave because I work for President Trump."
An editorial in The Washington Post on Monday said that if officials can't be left alone in public, "down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service. That benefits no one."
The Charlotte Observer newspaper, which has the largest circulation in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina, opines "such behavior shouldn't feel satisfying, and it's not necessary. It's liberals trying to beat Donald Trump by becoming Donald Trump."
Senator Marco Rubio from the state of Florida, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican Party presidential primary, said when people become so nasty "to those on the other side that it reaches dining, entertainment and sports," then that amounts to tribal politics that "isn't far removed from irrational gang rivalries driven by what neighborhood you live in or what colors you wear."
Some observers blamed Trump for creating the atmosphere — in more ways than one — for the public backlash his officials are beginning to face. They note that at a campaign event in the state of Iowa in February 2016, he told members of the crowd, "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? I promise you I will pay for the legal fees."