The president uses massive Twitter platform to attack a small restaurant in rural Virginia

Stay classy.

US President Donald Trump holds newspapers as he returns to the White House in Washington from Trump National Golf Club on Sunday. (CREDIT: Photo by YURI GRIPAS / AFP)
US President Donald Trump holds newspapers as he returns to the White House in Washington from Trump National Golf Club on Sunday. (CREDIT: Photo by YURI GRIPAS / AFP)

On Monday morning, President Trump used the bully pulpit of Twitter to attack the Red Hen, a small restaurant in rural Virginia that asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ party to leave when they went there to dine on Friday night.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”

Trump has 53 million Twitter followers. His attack on the “Red Hen Restaurant” led to an unaffiliated restaurant in Washington, D.C. with the same name being flooded with abuse.

Trump’s tweet came two days after Sanders posted one claiming that Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson’s decision to ask her party to leave “say[s] far more about her than about me.”

Sanders’ tweet prompted Walter Shaub, the federal government’s former ethics czar, to explain that federal officials are prohibited from using their Twitter accounts to attack private businesses.

Trump’s tweet appears to violate that same section of law, which prohibits federal officials from using their public positions for private gain.

The Trump administration has already proven that they don’t particularly care about the rules, however.

In March, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) ruled that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway twice violated a federal law prohibiting federal officials from using their offices for partisan purposes while she was endorsing the candidacy of Roy Moore, a failed Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama who was credibly accused of child abuse. The White House responded to the OSC’s ruling not by disciplining Conway or even condemning her conduct, but with a statement expressing contempt for the idea that the rules apply to them in the first place.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Wilkinson cited Trump’s moves to ban transgender people from serving in the military and his policy of separating migrant children from their parents as factors that motivated her, with support from her staff, to ask Sanders to leave.


“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson told the Post. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

Trump’s attack on the Red Hen wasn’t the first time he’s used his Twitter account to go after a private business — the president has also repeatedly attacked Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a paper whose reporting Trump doesn’t like — but it is notably ironic, given that Mar-a-Lago has been hit with 78 health code violations in recent years.