National News

Sarah Sanders Was Asked to Leave Restaurant Over White House Work

Posted June 23, 2018 5:11 p.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2018 5:12 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON — Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said she was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant Friday night because of her work in the Trump administration, becoming the latest official to be singled out for her support of the president’s policies.

In a Saturday tweet, Saunders said the owner of the restaurant, the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, suggested she leave, and she complied.

The woman’s actions “say far more about her than about me,” Sanders said. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.” A person who identified as a waiter at the restaurant said in a Facebook post that Sanders had been accompanied by seven other guests.

The restaurant did not respond to phone calls, and its website appeared to have crashed Saturday morning as reports of the episode began circulating.

The encounter is the third time this past week in which a Trump administration official was confronted over his or her political stance.

As tensions continued to escalate over the White House’s child-separation policy, Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, was heckled Tuesday night while dining at a Mexican restaurant. “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,” demonstrators shouted, according to video of the confrontation shared on social media.

And Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president known for his hard-line stance on immigration, was described as a “fascist” by a protester Sunday, also while at a Mexican restaurant, The New York Post reported.

While the administration struggles to reunite the families amid outrage over images and audio recordings of sobbing children taken away from their parents, the divisive messaging on both sides of the debate has intensified.

Within hours, the Red Hen’s review pages online painted a stark picture of the divide: Some people left glowing reviews for the farm-to-table restaurant from halfway across the country, and others denounced the political choices of the owner.

“The best,” one reviewer wrote on Yelp, leaving five stars. “I’ve heard that they serve crow to those deserving of it.”

“Pathetic,” the next review read. “How dare you use politics to discriminate. Seems you will be the actual loser in this case, once the reviews really sink in. Good luck, pal.”

On Facebook, the establishment had accumulated more than 10,000 five-star reviews, and more than 18,000 one-star reviews, prompting some criticism over Sanders’ decision to use her White House social media account instead of her personal one to identify the restaurant.

Another area restaurant with the same name — an unaffiliated Red Hen in a neighborhood of Washington — found itself in the crossfire, receiving some of the vitriol intended for the Lexington establishment.

“@PressSec went to the unaffiliated @RedHenLex last night, not to our DC-based restaurant,” it said on Twitter.