We still don’t know what Melania Trump meant with her “I really don’t care. Do U?” jacket. But variants of that question are being asked about a new trend: Trump administration officials getting rough receptions when they’re recognized in restaurants.
It started in Washington, where two players in Donald Trump’s border crackdown — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and policy adviser Stephen Miller — got served protests and heckling on separate visits to a pair of Mexican eateries.
The latest dining-out debacle befell White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after she sat down Friday night with a family group at a small-town restaurant in western Virginia.
The restaurant’s co-owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, told The Washington Post she booted Sanders for defending cruel policies of an “inhumane and unethical” administration.
Sanders tweeted: “I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. ... I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Former Obama adviser David Axelrod said he was “amazed and appalled” by those on the left cheering Sanders’ Red Hen heave-ho. “This, in the end, is a triumph for @realDonaldTrump vision of America: Now we’re divided by red plates & blue plates!” he tweeted.
Spiced with spite
The president on Monday launched one of his jeering, besides-the-point attacks, this one on the small business involved in the Sanders storm, by tweeting:
“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 squeamish taunt from on high drew responses on Twitter about an inconvenient fact :
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, which he promotes as the winter White House, was cited by state inspectors for poor maintenance — a year after the discovery of foods that could sicken people.
MAGA’s lonely hearts club
It’s not just well-known Trump officials facing social ostracism. Politico Magazine reported on the plight of millennials from the lower ranks of administration appointees who are living in left-leaning neighborhoods of Washington.
Some hide their identities in bar conversations. According to the magazine, a 31-year-old woman who is an administration official said that when she revealed her employer on a dating app, a man responded: “Do you rip babies from their mothers and then send them to Mexico?”
A former Trump White House aide is quoted as saying, “Thank God I’ve had a girlfriend of three years because the last person I would want to be is a single Trump supporter dating in D.C. right now.”
Janison: Composting his tweets
Maybe the tech wizards at Twitter can start posting expiration dates on presidential tweets, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. That way everyone will know how long Trump’s position on a given issue is expected to last.
Lately, when he takes a position on immigration — how to fix it and who should do it — there’s no point letting it sink in because he’ll switch rapidly to a new position, Janison states. From NATO to North Korea to gun laws, Trump’s pronouncements have a limited shelf life.
Trump: No judging
The president either wants Republicans to wait until after the midterms to pass tough immigration legislation, as he recently tweeted, or he’s “still 100 percent behind” a GOP-only compromise, according to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
On Sunday, heading to golf, Trump tweeted out a hard line — demanding immediate expulsion of migrants, including asylum speakers, without legal due process. “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” he said.
Conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have backed calls for more judges to speed up hearings.
A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union said, “What President Trump suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional.” See Newsday’s report by Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.
‘Ready, fire, aim’
Trump’s Muslim travel ban of 2017 and the border-separation policy of 2018 are of the same pattern, The Associated Press writes: A policy is launched with scant concern or preparation for its immediate impact or consequences, with results of painful and unexpected consequences to people’s lives.
“It’s not something that appreciates these young children and was certainly done in a ‘ready, fire, aim’ way, obviously,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is quoted as saying.
“Part of this was avoidable,” said Tom Bossert, Trump’s former homeland security adviser, on ABC’s “This Week.” Bossert, who supports the idea of “zero tolerance,” said detention centers were not equipped to handle the number of migrants being apprehended.
Bossert also suggested it’s unlikely that a federal judge will go along with the part of Trump’s latest executive order that calls for extending detentions of children beyond 20 days while keeping them with parents.
Legal experts say Trump’s chances are next to zero, reports Newsday’s Figueroa Hernandez. John F. Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said a similar request from the Obama administration was rejected.
Heads and tails
A White House military unit has produced challenge coins — commemorative medallions — to give out that feature Trump’s private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, on the front and the presidential seal, the White House and Air Force One on the back, The New York Times reports.
A spokeswoman said “no public funds were used” in their design or creation, according to the Times article. But there was no comment from the military office on whether other public resources were used.
What else is happening:
- A large majority of Americans — 72% — disapprove of migrant family separations according to a CBS News Battleground Tracker poll. But while 75% of Democrats call reunifying the families a high priority, only 23% of Republicans agree.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer urged the Trump administration Sunday to appoint a “czar” to take control of efforts to reunify separated migrant children with parents, reports Newsday’s Michael O’Keeffe. Federal agencies say they know where all the kids are, according to The Washington Post.
- Newly released emails suggest EPA chief Scott Pruitt discussed hiring a friend of a lobbyist family that owned a condo he rented for $50 a night, The New York Times reports.
- Stormy Daniels is scheduled to be interviewed Monday by federal prosecutors in Manhattan in preparation for a potential grand jury appearance about her $130,000 payoff from Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump, The Washington Post reported.
- Former Trump campaign official David Bossie, arguing on Fox News about heated rhetoric, told a black panelist he was “out of your cotton-picking mind.” Fox later called the racially tinged comment “deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate,” and Bossie apologized.
- Melania Trump told a youth group Sunday that “kindness, compassion, and positivity are very important traits in life.”
- Trump got wind of the interview from last week in which a “whimpering” Jimmy Fallon said he “made a mistake” in 2016 when he playfully mussed the then-candidate’s hair on “The Tonight Show.” “I did not do it to ‘normalize’ him,” said Fallon. Trump tweeted Sunday night: “Be a man Jimmy!”
- Jared Kushner told a Palestinian newspaper that the administration will soon present a peace plan, with or without hearing from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Kushner charged the Palestinian leadership is “scared” that “Palestinian people will actually like it.”