On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained why she tweeted about being asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., on Friday. She explained that it was a response to “news of the day” rather than an attack on the restaurant or the owner.
“I was responding to a number of news stories reached out to by over a dozen reporters and multiple news stories issued and it was considered news of the day so I responded in the way I would to any other news of the day story,” Sanders explained.
On Sunday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) joined former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub in denouncing Sanders’ tweet as an attack on the restaurant and therefore a violation of government ethics. They claimed that the tweet constituted a government interference in private business.
The tweet did not explicitly attack the restaurant, but it did say the owner’s actions “say far more about her than about me.”
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
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
Indeed, this message seems more a statement about what happened than an outright attack on a private business. Sanders’ response should silence ethics concerns.
Sanders also advocated for civility in public discourse. “Many by now have heard that I was asked to leave a restaurant this weekend where I attempted to have dinner with my family. My husband and I politely left and went home. I was asked to leave because I worked for President Trump,” she recalled.
“We are allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm. And this goes for all people regardless of politics,” the press secretary added. “Some have chosen to push hate and vandalism against the restaurant that I was asked to leave from. A Hollywood actor publicly encouraged people to kidnap my children. And this weekend a member of Congress called for people to push back and make clear to those serving their country in this administration that they are not welcome anywhere, any time, for anything.”
Sanders encouraged “healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy,” but denounced “the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public” as “unacceptable.”