When the incident happened, the news rocketed around the Internet: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, had been asked to leave a restaurant called the Red Hen in Virginia on Friday evening.
The revelation brought both praise and criticism, and President Trump himself weighed in on the matter, calling the restaurant “filthy” (even though the eatery breezed through its last health inspection).
Sanders tweeted about the matter at the time, but on Monday, she appeared before reporters and on live television during her daily press corps briefing. She kicked the event off by addressing the situation right from the get-go, describing the incident as polite but condemning the vitriol that came about because of it.
“We’re allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm. This goes for all people, regardless of politics,” she said.
Sanders pointed out harassment and vandalism of the restaurant, but she also mentioned the threats made against herself and her children, and said that trying to make someone fearful of going out in public shouldn’t be allowed.
“Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable,” she said.
Here’s a look at her full remarks on the topic, as transcribed by a Globe reporter:
“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 work for President Trump. We’re allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm. This goes for all people, regardless of politics. 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, anytime, for anything. Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable. America’s a great country, and our ability to find solutions despite those disagreements is what makes us unique. That is exactly what President Trump has done for all Americans by building a booming economy with record-low unemployment for African-Americans and Hispanics, the defeat of ISIS, and the ongoing work to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula.”
Later on in the briefing, a reporter asked Sanders about her tweet about the restaurant incident — the sole question about the topic during the whole briefing.
Their exchange is as follows, according to the White House:
REPORTER: “Can you talk about why you tweeted from your official account about the episode that you had the restaurant on Friday night?”
SANDERS: “Sure. I was responding to a number of news stories. I’d been reached out to by over a dozen reporters and there were multiple news stories that had already been issued. It was considered news of the day, so I responded in the way I would to any other news-of-the-day story.”