Republicans are hammering Joe Biden after the president and first lady were caught violating Washington, DC’s mask mandate during their first date night on the town since moving into the White House.
‘The emperor has no cloth…’ wrote Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., on Twitter, referencing a 19th-century parable where people are afraid to criticize something that is believed by the masses.
The president and First Lady Jill Biden were seen leaving maskless at Fiola Mare, a seafood restaurant popular with the political set in the Georgetown area of the city.
‘There’s always a double standard for the Left,’ wrote Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
‘Per CDC guidance and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s executive order, all individuals over age 2 are required to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status,’ the restaurant states on its website.
‘Masks must be always worn while in our restaurants, except while eating and drinking.’
‘Glad Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Ph.D. enjoyed their mask free dinner. Now, get rid of the mandate for the rest of us. #RuleForTheeButNotForMe,’ Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., wrote on Twitter.
‘Americans are being punished & ostracized all over the country for not wearing a mask. Meanwhile…,’ said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
‘Hypocrite!’ wrote GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
‘None of the people telling you to worry about coronavirus are actually worried about coronavirus,’ conservative commentator Jesse Kelly tweeted.
‘In Biden’s America rule following is for peasants,’ wrote Ohio Senate candidate and author JD Vance.
‘Biden forgot the costume for the show,’ wrote columnist Karol Markowicz.
Yet the 78-year-old and his wife were both maskless as they walked through the restaurant, with their Secret Service detail wearing black face masks.
The president was carrying his face mask but not wearing it, despite vocally-pushing for people to wear them as often as possible.
President Biden has also frequently donned his own mask, despite being fully-vaccinated, in what some critics have branded political theater.
He has said he is determined to differentiate himself from Donald Trump, famed for turning his nose up at the coverings, and not being snapped wearing one until July 2020 – five months after cases began to hit US shores.
In August the Mayor of DC Muriel Bowser reinstated a mask mandate, and ordered that restaurants, bars, and other liquor-serving establishments will face fines for not enforcing the rules.
Joe Biden was seen on Saturday night arriving at a DC restaurant with his face mask in hand
The first lady was also flouting the Washington DC mask mandate as she entered the eatery
The president had his face mask in his hand when he left the restaurant, although his Secret Service detail were wearing theirs. Outside he was not required to be wearing it
Biden is seen on Saturday night leaving Fiola Mare after dinner with his wife
A first violation will be punished with a warning from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), and the second will lead to a $1,000 fine.
After three or more violations, the business’s liquor license will be reviewed by the DC liquor board.
Unlike in New York, restaurants are not required to insist on proof of vaccination or a negative test.
The White House has not commented on the Bidens’ rule breaking.
Fiola Mare, in the Georgetown district of Washington DC, is popular with politicians
Chef Fabio Trabocchi owns a series of restaurants, including Fiola Mare and Fiola da Tabocchi
Biden had the ‘lobster,’ a patron told the pool reporter – although the only lobster on the menu appears to be a $46 crudo.
Wild New Zealand langoustine, are also available, at $28 each.
Fiola Mare, owned by James Beard Award-winning Chef Fabio Trabocchi, is a frequent haunt of politicians and power lunchers: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump dined there with Ted Cruz and his wife, while the Obamas were regulars.
Barack Obama celebrated his birthday there in 2016.
‘The Obamas would stroll in like a gorgeous, happy ex, to celebrate a birthday or throw a party for Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg, and you could feel the whole restaurant swoon,’ wrote Moe Tkacik, a former server, in a February article for Slate.
She used the article to condemn members of the Trump administration for being poor tippers and demanding guests.
While the Obamas were regularly seen at DC dining hotspots, Donald and Melania Trump only ever ate at one restaurant, located in his own Trump International Hotel.
Of the Obamas, Tkacik wrote: ‘Their staffers and allies had lived inside city limits and loved ordering things like sea urchin and microbatch bourbon.
‘They tipped as reliably as normal Democrats but on substantially more hedonistic check averages.’
Tkacik, a self-described Bernie Sanders supporter, told how Stephen Miller, Trump’s chief speechwriter, expected exhausting detail about his caviar, while multi-millionaire Trump insiders, such as commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, were mean with their gratuities.
The wife of the treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, Louise Linton, ‘had so many dietary restrictions the whole meal was just awkward,’ Tkacik wrote.
Education secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, ‘was a paragon of superficial graciousness, even if she didn’t tip quite enough to compensate for two or three tables that would ask to move if she was seated near them.’
Tkacik did not name the restaurant she worked for, but on her Twitter profile she says she worked at Fiola Mare.
Louise Linton is pictured with her husband, Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, in 2017
Linton, Tkacik says, ‘had so many dietary restrictions the whole meal was just awkward’
Regular guest Wilbur Ross was ‘perennially scowling’ and never tipped more than 14 per cent
Maria Trabocchi, center, visits with diners at her and her husbands’ restaurant at Fiola Mare
The restaurant is on the edge of the Potomac river in Washington DC
After the 2016 election, they knew things would change.
‘Business plunged as the last Obama veterans decamped for Big Tech gigs, the experience was painful for all,’ she wrote.
Tkacik described ‘the peculiar misery of waiting tables in D.C. during the Trump era’
‘Baseball caps violated our dress code, so for those more decorated Trumpets, most meals began with an unwanted amuse-bouche of flambéed persecution complex.
‘Knowing they would otherwise tip badly, I’d fall all over myself to send them little comps – and they would still, more often than not, tip less than 18 or even 15 percent.’
Meanwhile, she described Ross as ‘the perma-scowling almost-billionaire’ who became a regular, ‘despite what always seemed to be a vibe of great displeasure enveloping his presence when I approached his table.’
She said: ‘He ordered the cheapest wine on the by-the-glass list and didn’t tip more than 14 percent, no matter how often you topped him off without charging.’
Cohn ‘was a bigger spender who still couldn’t bring himself to tip more than 18 percent,’ she said.
Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior advisor, was obsessed with detail of the caviar provenance
Fiola Mare is known for its seafood, in particular the seafood tower
Miller came to dine with his brother, and ‘interrogated’ Tkacik about the caviar.
‘He wanted to know exactly which bodies of water had produced the caviar and how precisely it had been extracted from its mother,’ she said.
‘As a waitress, it was hard to hate anyone who ordered 3 ounces of caviar at brunch.’
Trump’s former campaign manager, Washington lobbyist Paul Manafort, used a fake name to book a table for ‘an inexplicably awkward ‘celebration’ dinner and tipped 25 percent.’
Tkacik noted: ‘A creature of Washington who spent decades trickling the spoils of global kleptocracy down to the fine-dining servant class, Manafort obviously knew how to act.’
Not all of the Republicans were known to be difficult.
Cruz, she said, was ‘impeccable’ and his ‘gracious wife’ Heidi described as being: ‘amenable to Sancerre at any price point, takes literally 15 seconds to order, reliable tipper, doesn’t make you ‘work for it.”
Tkacik said: ‘That’s how you knew he wasn’t a real Trumpist.’
She said she stopped working nights in 2019.
‘The Trump years were lean ones for fancy restaurants in D.C. not located inside the Trump Hotel,’ she concluded.
‘But now that they’re gone, good God it must be said: They really were the scum of the earth, and while some of them, I’m sure, are good people, I’ll be plenty happy with merely a $1,400 check if I never have to see another one of them in my section again.’