U.S. President Donald Trump is criticizing a Virginia restaurant that asked his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to leave because she works for him and represents his views.
Sanders was dining with her husband and friends Friday night at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, 300 kilometers southwest of Washington, when the owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, asked Sanders to leave. Sanders and her party promptly left, even as they had started eating and ordered a main course.
Wilkinson told The Washington Post that she said to Sanders in a conversation away from her table "that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation," traits she felt Sanders and Trump lack. 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.
Sanders, on Twitter Saturday, said she "politely left" the restaurant. "Her actions say far more about her than about me," Sanders said of Wilkinson. "I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so."
On Monday, Trump said the restaurant "should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"
Sanders's experience at the Red Hen was the latest incident where critics of the administration interrupted Trump officials while dining out.
Trump's Homeland Security chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, was yelled at by protesters last week inside a Washington restaurant after she had publicly defended the policy of separating children from parents who were apprehended for illegally entering the U.S., a policy Trump has since reversed. Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller, another immigration hardliner, was heckled at another restaurant.
Some long-time critics of the Trump administration have gone to the defense of his officials, to let them eat a meal in public in peace.
A Washington Post editorial 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."