News & Politics

Washingtonian Today: Raising McCain

Photograph by Evy Mages

About Washingtonian Today

Washingtonian Today is not just another political news roundup. Instead, this daily morning brief provides local context on national news, catches you up on what’s happening at Washingtonian, points you toward super duper awesome things to do around town, and lets you in on some special events going on in-house. Sign up here to receive Washingtonian Today in your inbox every morning.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is re-upping his efforts to rename the Russell Senate Office Building for late Senator John McCain. Schumer’s announcement seems to be a direct response to President Trump’s recent attacks on McCain. Republicans and former members of his administration are publicly condemning Trump’s assertions that McCain never “thanked” him for funeral services. On CNN this morning, 11-day comms director Anthony Scaramucci expressed his disapproval: “I don’t like it at all. I’m surprised that he’s doing it… He’s hitting something that is socially unnatural—you’re attacking somebody that died seven months ago.”  The building is currently named for Georgia governor and Senator Richard Russell. (And it has my favorite Capitol spot to hang out—Cups & Company.)

Former Breitbart London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam, who’s now heading up the relaunch of conservative newspaper-turned-“MAGAzine” Human Events, will speak tomorrow at the Hilton in Arlington. The event is sponsored by a group called Students for Self Defense. Kassam is the guy who had a CPAC afterparty where he urged a Spectator writer to mention the hotness of his date and where a specialty cocktail was named “Raheem Is Daddy.”

My name is Brittany Shepherd, and I refuse to engage with “Ranch Girl” content. (But you can buy the shirt here.) Email me at and follow me on Twitter. Daniella Byck ( contributed to reporting today. Please subscribe to this newsletter.

Barron Trump celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday with Melania Trump in Palm Beach, Florida. The first lady posted mylar “13” balloons on Twitter (why can I never escape these balloons?) and Instagram with the caption “Happy Birthday BWT ❤️❤️❤️.” Barron joins Malia and Sasha Obama as first children turned first teenagers while in the White House.

Last week’s excitement over the opening of a new full-service restaurant east of the Anacostia River has been quelled with the announcement that Cheers at the Big Chair is closing on Friday. Owner Dionne Reeder posted on Facebook to say the nearby Busboys and Poets location is not responsible for the closure: the building owners, she writes, did not offer Cheers at the Big Chair an extension on their lease. Although the restaurant is closing, Reeder wrote “Stay tuned we are not gone forever just for now! We are committed to helping to end the food desert that exist east of the Anacostia river!”

Reeder ran for a seat on the DC Council in November. On her campaign page, she framed her experience with the restaurant as a dual service for the community, creating jobs and filling the need for sit-down dining in an area lacking options. Those looking to say their farewells to the restaurant can attend a goodbye party on Friday from 8 PM to 12 PM.

What’s on my mind: Mayor Bowser is trying to take away the one thing I hold near and dear to my heart: the Dave Thomas Circle Wendy’s. Back in my day, we could have bad traffic circles and spicy nuggets and no one complained!* (*I believe that many, many people complained.)

Local Living report: Local Living is a big part of the reason I still get the Post delivered daily, and with Brittany’s encouragement, I’m going to start sharing highlights from it each week. This week’s section starts strong with another great how-to by Jeanne Huber, this time regarding how to align those pesky bifold doors. I’ve tried this task and it’s no fun, so I appreciate the help. Jura Koncius’s tribute to her old washing machine includes some excellent tips for maintaining your own laundry station. Adrian Higgins’s tip this week: “Houseplants, which are trendy again, need re-potting every year or two to remain vigorous and healthy.” Finally, I enjoyed Ann Midgette’s story about taking up running in her 50s. Good Local Living this week. —Andrew Beaujon

What we have cooking at Washingtonian:

Our pick for things to do around town:

MUSIC To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival—the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world—Strathmore and Washington Performing Arts co-present the concert “Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour.” Featuring six jazz artists performing original works plus covers of jazz standards, the performance will bring the legendary California fest’s vibe to the East Coast. Performers include Grammy winner Cécile McLorin SalvantBria Skonberg, Melissa Aldana, Christian Sands, Yasushi Nakamura, and Jamison Ross. $38-$68, 8 PM.

Good reads:

Donna Brazile wasn’t born yesterday. She wants you, and powerhouse New Yorker interviewer Isaac Chotiner, to know that. “I was born in New Orleans, by the bayou, but I didn’t eat everything from the river.” Read her explanation of why she’s joined Fox News as a contributor. Oh and please, call her Donna. (New Yorker)

Big events from Washingtonian:

Do you really love the drip coffee from Swings? Adore the sweets at District Doughnut? Our annual readers poll is now live–take it and let us know your favorite things in Washington. You could win two tickets to our fabulous Best of Washington party in June.

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.