On Sunday night, President Trump came to the defense of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after an owner of a restaurant in Virginia asked her to leave because she works for the Trump administration. The restaurant, said Trump, needs to "focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows" rather than kicking out "a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders."
The incident took place at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia on Saturday. Sanders tweeted the following brief account of what took place:
The owner of Red Hen, Stephanie Wilkinson, proudly confirmed to The Washington Post that she did in fact ask Sanders to leave and that Sanders complied politely, even offering to pay for the food that was being prepared. Though Wilkinson said she's "not a huge fan of confrontation," she believed it was in the best interest of her restaurant to tell Sanders to get out.
"I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals," Wilkinson told the Post. Several of her employees, she said, are gay and disagreed with Trump's call for a ban on transgender troops in the military. "Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave," she says she told her staff. "They said yes."
After telling the press secretary who she was, Wilkinson said she asked for her to come out to the patio, where she "explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation. I said, 'I'd like to ask you to leave.'" Sanders respectfully agreed to leave and offered to pay for the food that was being prepared. "I said, no," Wilkinson said. "It’s on the house."
On Sunday, Trump blasted the "filthy" Red Hen and praised Sanders.
"The Red Hen 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!"
The action against Sanders follows what is turning out to be a pattern of Trump administration figures, particularly women, including DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, being personally targeted.