Several angry diners lambasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife while they were eating at a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky — and even threw the couple's leftovers out on the sidewalk.
Todd Bird, his husband Casey Leek, and several of their friends were waiting for their table at the popular Cuban restaurant Havana Rumba Friday night when McConnell and his wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, walked in, put their name down, and headed to the bar.
"The mood shifted," Bird told BuzzFeed News Saturday night. "At first, people were polite and not saying anything, but you could feel the whole restaurant be like, 'Ugh, it's Mitch McConnell.'"
Bird said he and his party had finally been seated when a restaurant host brought over McConnell and Chao and seated the politicians at the next table.
Naturally, Bird took a selfie.
About 10 minutes later, the 43-year-old Kentuckian said, an infuriated woman approached McConnell and "started screaming at the top of her lungs."
"She yelled, 'You're a traitor to this country' over and over and told him how he was ruining this country," Bird said.
McConnell, he added, didn't address the protester, although Chao told her to leave the couple alone.
After her tirade, the protester stalked out of the restaurant, marched to the sidewalk outside McConnell's booth, "and gave them the double fingers against the window."
A hush fell over the restaurant, Bird said, but soon everyone had resumed their dinners, and McConnell and Chao finished their meal. But as they were waiting for the check, he added, another angry patron approached the senator and "banged his fists on the table."
Another diner recorded the interaction and gave it to TMZ, which posted the footage Saturday morning. In the video, an irate man is seen standing above the silent couple and can be heard yelling at them about social security and health care. "Why don't you get out of here?" he shouts. "Why don't you leave the entire country?"
Several other diners pushed back against the customer, telling him to leave the couple alone. Others, though, clapped in support.
Bird and his party had wrapped up their dinner and were standing outside when he said they saw the man in the video thrust open the restaurant door and fling McConnell's to-go box of food out onto the sidewalk.
While outside, Leek, Bird's husband, recorded the man yelling at McConnell through the window and posted it to Snapchat. The video shows the customer gesturing and waving his arms at the senator as he sits in his booth.
Eventually, restaurant staff came over and escorted the diner out. Chao then flagged the manager and insisted that they should not pay for their meal because they were "treated so badly," Bird said.
In a statement on Saturday, Havana Rumba said it deeply regretted what transpired Friday night, and added that staff had been "caught off guard as the incident developed quickly."
"We strongly believe everyone should feel welcome and safe in our restaurants," the company said in a statement posted to Facebook. "Once we were aware of the situation we acted quickly and efficiently to assure that everyone was safe."
A spokesperson for McConnell told the Courier-Journal that the Senate majority leader and his wife had enjoyed their dinner and that "they appreciate those who spoke up against incivility."
"They hope other patrons weren't too inconvenienced by left-wing tantrums," the spokesperson, Robert Steurer, told the paper, adding that "McConnell isn't intimidated by protesters."
The confrontation is the latest in a series of incidents in which Republican politicians and Trump administration officials have been confronted by protesters while dining out. So far this year, demonstrators have confronted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Sen. Ted Cruz, and then–head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt at restaurants in Washington, DC.
In June, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was turned away from the Virginia restaurant Red Hen, and McConnell himself has been confronted by protesters at dining establishments, airports, and outside his Kentucky home.