Eric Trump, the second eldest son of President Donald Trump, said an employee at a swanky cocktail bar in Chicago spit on him while he was visiting the venue Tuesday night.
“It was purely a disgusting act by somebody who clearly has emotional problems,” Eric Trump told right-wing website Breitbart News.
The incident took place around 8:30 p.m. at the Aviary in the city’s West Loop neighborhood, NBC 5 Chicago reported, citing multiple unidentified sources.
Trump, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, was eating dinner at the upscale cocktail lounge when a waitress approached him and spit on him, a source at the Trump Organization told HuffPost.
U.S. Secret Service agents and Chicago police officers reportedly took the woman into custody for roughly two hours. She was released after Eric Trump decided not to press charges, the source said.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed to HuffPost that officers were on the scene, but referred questions to the Secret Service, the lead agency on the case, since the incident involved a federal protectee.
Further details about the employee were not immediately available. The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment. The Secret Service declined to comment.
The Aviary confirmed Wednesday in a statement that one of its employees spit on Eric Trump in what the bar called an “unfortunate incident.” The bar said its human resources team had spoken with the employee and that the person has been placed on leave. The statement condemned both the spitting and the criticism the bar has received in the aftermath of the event.
“No customer should ever be spit upon,” the bar said. “The online discussion about the incident is troubling. Hundreds of people are calling for the demise of our business, threatening our employees, and posting fake reviews ... they are wrong to do so based on the actions of a lone individual.”
“So too, however, are those people wrong who are praising this as an act of civil disobedience,” the statement continued. “We have voices and the means to be heard. A degrading act lowers the tenor of debate. To some it might feel good, but it is unlikely to serve any larger purpose. We hope this incident can, at least, serve to illuminate the current absurdity of the discourse in our politics.”
Eric Trump told Breitbart News he believes the act was politically motivated.
“For a party that preaches tolerance, this once again demonstrates they have very little civility,” he said. “When somebody is sick enough to resort to spitting on someone, it just emphasizes a sickness and desperation and the fact that we’re winning.”
He tweeted pictures from his Chicago trip hours after the alleged confrontation.
The Aviary’s co-owner, Nick Kokonas, made headlines in January when he took a jab at the White House’s fast-food buffet celebrating Clemson University’s national championship football team.
“I’m personally inviting the Clemson Tigers team and coaches to Chicago to experience what an actual celebration dinner should be,” Kokonas, who also co-owns Chicago’s Michelin three-star eatery Alinea, said at the time. “I’m not joking.”
Several of the president’s allies have been harassed or confronted over their political ties while dining out, including then-White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway.
This story has been updated with a statement from the bar.