Trump Calls Red Hen Filthy — Forgetting His Own Restaurant Had Health Violations

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
On Monday morning, the president, in his predictable fashion, tweeted about the incident when Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA.
"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," he wrote. "I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"
But Trump might also want to look in his own backyard when he criticizes establishments for their cleanliness and upkeep.
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Earlier this year, Trump's Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, FL, was cited by inspectors for poor maintenance, according to the Miami Herald. The exclusive club, which costs $200,000 in initiation fees to join — and which is quite an ethical mess — was discovered to have two violations back in November 2017: lack of smoke detectors capable of alerting the hearing impaired through flashing bright lights, and a slab of concrete missing from a staircase that could cause someone to fall.
While those two violations have reportedly been fixed, there were food-safety issues as late as February of this year, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Mar-A-Lago, including sushi fish that hadn't gone through the mandatory treatment for parasites and food stored in broken-down coolers that could spoil the ingredients.
Photo: Daniel Lin/AP Photo.
For the record, here is a photo of the Red Hen. It's no polished, glossy Trump International Hotel, but at least it's not an ethics disaster that locals avoid like the plague. (After Trump's "shithole" comments, reviewers flooded the hotel's Yelp page with one-star ratings, describing it as a, you guessed it, shithole.)
In Sanders' tweet about getting kicked out of the restaurant, for which she's now facing accusations that she may have committed an ethics violation because it came from the @PressSec account, she said that co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson's "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." She did, however, also point out that the entire interaction was polite, as did Wilkinson.
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"This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals," Wilkinson explained her actions to The Washington Post. "I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation."
The restaurant incident has elicited the typical responses along political lines: Trump supporters are leaving bad reviews on the Red Hen's Yelp page out of spite, while the administration's critics are praising Wilkinson's principled stance. A resident of Lexington, a town of about 7,000, brought a bouquet of flowers and a sign that read, "Democracy requires principled gov't. Thank you Red Hen!!" to the restaurant.
Last Tuesday evening, Trump's Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled out of MXDC Cocina Mexicana, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., by protestors.
"How dare you spend your evening here eating dinner as you’re complicit in the separation and deportation of over 10,000 children separated from their parents? How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting and imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum in the United States? We call on you to end family separation and abolish ICE!" a protestor can be heard saying in a live video posted on Facebook by the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, as Nielsen sits at her table and looks down uncomfortably.
Undoubtedly kicking public officials out of restaurants contributes to "incivility" and stirs up emotion. But so does putting toddlers and babies in cages and lying to reporters on behalf of the Trump administration.
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