White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this morning confirmed reports that she was asked to leave The Red Hen, a restaurant located in Lexington, Va., because of her role in the Trump administration.
The incident first came to light via a Facebook post last night from a man who said he served Sanders before the establishment’s owner asked the press secretary to leave.
Conservatives have responded to the latest dining confrontation by targeting The Red Hen’s reviews on Facebook and Yelp. There is another restaurant called The Red Hen located in Washington, D.C., which, perhaps hoping to avoid collateral damage, has issued statements today clarifying that it is unaffiliated with The Red Hen in Lexington.
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Sanders’ ejection follows two other incidents in which Trump officials had meals interrupted by political opponents, responding to the administration’s new policy of separating children from parents after crossing America’s southern border. Stephen Miller, an adviser often credited as an architect of the White House’s hard-line stances on immigration, was reportedly confronted at a D.C.-area restaurant by another customer who called him a “real-life fascist.” Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen left another D.C. restaurant earlier this week when a group of protesters confronted her.
The tactic of directly confronting administration officials has itself become a topic of debate, with even some opponents of the child-separation policy describing it as a sign of eroding public discourse and growing tribalism. Others see the actions as an inevitable consequence of extreme public outrage at a policy that many see as deeply unethical and un-American, with shades of fascist ethnic warfare.
Regardless of their broader implications, such gestures may have helped pressure the administration into a rare backpedal. President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order purporting to end the child-separation policy, after a week of blaming Democrats for the policy and claiming he had no power to change it. The new executive order itself faces legal hurdles, because it appears to ignore a 1997 court settlement that limited the government’s ability to detain immigrant children.