White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders created quite a stir when she tweeted about how the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA, asked her family to leave this past weekend. The controversy resurfaced when President Trump chimed in on Monday — and boy, things escalated quickly.
Sander’s initial tweet generated both support and backlash on social media, after the press secretary claimed that she and her family were asked to leave the restaurant because she worked for the president.
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
But on Monday, it was the president’s turn to face the music, when he chimed in on the restaurant controversy. Instead of fussing over fairness, his usual talking point, Trump chose to focus on the Red Hen itself, particularly its cleanliness.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
The internet, however, was quick to flip Trump’s narrative on its head. Several users pointed to the several of the president’s own restaurants, and their many, many health violations and bad reviews.
Think about how messed up this is. The president is trying to destroy a small business because they didn’t serve his lying press secretary. I can’t wait to go to Red Hen – the menu looks fabulous…unlike the disgusting Trump Grill. https://t.co/J0cOUQ0aYr https://t.co/gS2brMzst7
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) June 25, 2018
Health inspectors find hygiene failings at Donald Trump's Florida resort https://t.co/9GkbwAhtAv
— 1010011010 (@Sergio_Septum) June 25, 2018
Trump has the nerve to attack the Red Hen as "Dirty" when one of his restaurants literally killed someone…
In 1990 a restaurant in his Trump Castle Casino & Resort in Atlantic City served a man “salmonella-tainted mousse”.
The man DIED!
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) June 25, 2018
Shall we talk about the inspection records at Mar a Lago? If you’d like more time to work on your Yelp reviews I’m sure we can figure something out.
— Cheeto Patrol (@CheetoPatrol) June 25, 2018
He who runs restaurants who receive terrible health ratings shouldn't be illegally using his government position to throw stones at restaurants who hurt the feelings of his mouthpieces. pic.twitter.com/lpnf8sFhin
— Tim Peacock (@TimAPeacock) June 25, 2018
The Red Hen passed its most recent health inspection with no violations
Mar-a-Lago resort has had 51 health-code violations since 2013, and an additional 30 at Mar-a-Lago’s beach club
Trump’s Doral golf club has had 524 health-code violations since 2013https://t.co/G42IdBjAgU
— Facts Do Matter (@WilDonnelly) June 25, 2018
Like you know anything about the restaurant business, health inspection reports show the Red Hen passed with flying colors this year. By contrast, Trump's properties have been dinged for hundreds of health code violations.
— BeatnikDude (@BeatnikDude) June 25, 2018
Sanders has not yet commented further on her tweet or the backlash, but she, and President Trump, may have committed a federal ethics violation in condemning the Red Hen.
Former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, attorney Walter Shaub, tweeted that Sanders’s tweet was a “clear violation of 5 CFR 2635.702(a),” which states federal employees cannot use their government positions to either endorse, or denounce, private products, services, or enterprises. He added of the president, his “Red Hen rant would also violate the misuse of position regulation.”
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