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Trump takes aim at Virginia restaurant that asked his press secretary to leave

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, in Washington, June 7, 2018. Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant because of her work in the Trump administration, becoming the third such official in the past week — with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and adviser Stephen Miller — to be singled out for supporting the president’s policies. (Doug Mills/The New York Times/Copyright 2018)

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Monday at a Virginia restaurant that refused to serve his press secretary, writing on Twitter that the Red Hen has "filthy canopies, doors and windows" and "badly needs a paint job."

The president's attack on the exterior of the tiny farm-to-table establishment came in response to an incident Friday night in which its owner asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave on grounds that she worked for an "inhumane and unethical" administration.

Sanders had been out for dinner with friends, the cheese course already on the table, when owner Stephanie Wilkinson took her aside and requested that she leave the restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

"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 said in his Monday tweet. "I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"

Trump, who has described himself as a germaphobe, remained uncharacteristically silent about the episode over the weekend, even as it became the talk of social media and cable television, and he tweeted about other subjects.

Sanders took to her government Twitter account on Saturday to explain that she had "politely left" when asked.

"Her actions say far more about her than about me," Sanders said of Wilkinson. "I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so."

Sanders, who provides on-camera briefings to the White House press corps, became the latest member of the Trump administration to be subject to scorn while out in public in a private capacity.

Hecklers recently shouted "Shame!" at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a public face of Trump's immigration policies, hastening her departure from a Mexican restaurant near the White House last week.

And Trump adviser and immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller also was confronted at a restaurant last week and called a "fascist."

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has urged the public to continue such public harassment.

Later Monday morning, Trump returned to Twitter to share an assessment of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., about the recent incidents.

"Trump haters still haven't realized how much they help him with their condescension of those who either voted for him or don't share their hatred of him," Rubio said on Twitter. "And how much they help him with their irrational hostility towards those who work for him."

Authors information: John Wagner is a national reporter who leads The Post's new breaking political news team. He previously covered the Trump White House. During the 2016 presidential election, he focused on the Democratic campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. He also chronicled Maryland government for more than a decade. The Washington Post's Mary Jordan contributed to this report.