News & Politics

Washingtonian Today: Jonathan Van Ness Says Trey Gowdy Needs a Makeover

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.

Speak loudly and carry a big sign: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, along with other members of Congress, will join several high-profile progressive nonprofits and advocacy groups in a rally outside the White House this evening. It’s been quite the busy week for Nadler, whose committee voted 24 to 17 to authorize subpoenas for the report on Robert Mueller’s investigation from Attorney General William Barr. They also voted to subpoena five ex-White House officials in connection to the probe: Former counsels Don McGahn and Ann Donaldson, former top strategist Steve Bannon, former communications director Hope Hicks, and former chief of staff Reince Priebus. Next steps? Nadler hopes to negotiate a deal with Barr to release the full report before officially serving him a subpoena.

Tonight’s Rally to #ReleaseTheReport is organized in part by Nobody Is Above the Law, a coalition of resistance groups who have previous arranged pro-Mueller demonstrations and protests near 1600 Pennsylvania. Organizers are encouraging demonstrators to wear “creative protest attire” and bring along props: “Some people are planning to make signs out of empty manila folders with our ‘Release the Report; core message.”And there’s no shortage of protestors who’ve pivoted their message toward releasing Muller’s several-hundred-page write-up. Enter the Kremlin Annex, an anti-Trump protest group originally formed after the Putin summit in Helsinki, who have been outside the White House for 263 days and counting. Tonight’s events begin at 5 PM in Lafayette Park.

Hello! It’s me, Brittany Shepherd. Email me at and follow me on TwitterKaila Philo ( contributed reporting today. If you subscribe to this newsletter, I will buy you an overpriced LaGuardia croissant.

Our Adia Robinson was once again out on the town: last night she was serving looks with the Fab 5 of Netflix’s Queer Eye at the Library of Congress.

Four members of Queer Eye’s Fab 5 spoke at the Library of Congress on Wednesday in a conversation moderated by The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness #blessed the crowd with their witty banter, bubbly personalities, and thoughts on everything from the Equality Act to self care. (Catch my live tweets of the event over here!) Before the event, the Fab Five viewed pieces of the Library of Congress’s collection, including Jonathan Larson’s lyric notes for “Seasons of Love”, a pancake recipe by Rosa Parks, and a piece of James Madison’s hair. After the event I asked the guys what they thought of DC and they showered the city with love, despite being stuck in traffic for hours. Van Ness and Berk shouted out DC statehood, with Van Ness asking: “How does DC not have a vote in the Senate?” and Berk following that up with “no taxation without representation.” Porowski threw some love to the Watergate’s Kingbird, where the Fab Five stopped yesterday, calling the burrata pizza a “really lovely meal.”

When another reporter asked who in Congress could use a bit of a makeover, Van Ness said Trey Gowdy. “The Botox is insane, the hair is insane. It’s always been insane,” Van Ness says. He also recommends a laser treatment to smooth and firm Mitch McConnell‘s neck. Fashion expert Tan France refrained from offering unsolicited outfit opinions.“It would be too shady for me to say that person needs help,” he says, but added that he is a fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s outfits. Speaking of the freshman congresswoman from New York, Berk has plans to meet with Ocasio-Cortez today after he tweeted Tuesday asking her to put him to work. Berk plans to make sure any potential renovation meets all congressional ethics rules. As for aesthetics, he says, “I see her office as something like Olivia Pope and Associates.…She’s a real life Olivia Pope.”

Councilman Trayon White has been promoting conspiracy theories about Nipsey Hussle’s death. To be fair, a lot of people have: Ever since the Grammy-nominated rapper was shot dead on Sunday night, conspiracies have floated up from the fringes to the forefront. Some have pointed out Hussle’s involvement with a documentary about Dr. Sebi—a renowned scammer who’s claimed to cure AIDS, cancer, and diabetes with herbs and spices. White posted a series of tributes to Hussle on Instagram, most of which promoted this theory. In one post, he claims that Hussle’s death “sounds professional,” and in another, he posts a screenshot of a tweet from February saying that the rapper was “basically going against Big Pharma,” and that “not too many ppl have made it [out] of that alive.” Keep in mind White once said he believes the Rothschilds control the climate. Cancel out White’s negative energy by participating in an event to honor to the late hip-hop star tonight: According to a photo posted on Reddit, a candlelight vigil for Hussle will take place in Malcolm X Park at 6:30 PM.

And now for something completely different: Patagonia has restricted bulk sales of its signature vests to  “mission-driven companies,” according to BuzzFeed News. This naturally excludes most finance firms. Consultants will be left cold this coming winter.

What we have cooking at Washingtonian:

• Six women lawyers formerly of the international firm Jones Day, whose clients include Trump’s reelection campaign, are suing the firm for what they allege are frat-boy style antics, systemic gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and diminished work opportunities for lawyers who become pregnant.

• It’s almost the weekend—which means its time to look at shiny, beautiful and very expensive houses on the market.

• Find yourself hungry in Old Town? Ditch the scallops and load up on mole at Mexico City-inspired Urbano 116.

• Pretend you’re in Greece while browsing the photos of a gorgeous Mediterranean-inspired wedding. I can just hear ABBA playing in the distance now…

• Your guitar is probably not spying on you (yet) but that’s not stopping Paul Reed Smith from selling software to the government.

• There’s (probably) no turning back now—Amazon has signed its first leases in National Landing.

• Okay, who wants to try a fried octopus sandwich with me at the new Stellina pizzeria?

Our pick for things to do around town:

BOOKS Psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb breaks down the stigma of seeing a therapist in her new book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, sharing her experiences as a clinician—and patient herself. Gottlieb, who also writes the “Dear Therapist” column for The Atlantic, will speak about her book and her observations on humanity at Sixth & I with NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon. Book signing to follow. $15 (ticket) or $30 (ticket plus book), 7 PM.

Good reads: 

•  Finally, a guide for the headphone agnostic that answers the question: is it worth taking the pricey plunge to buy AirPods? (I lost mine.)  (New York Times)

• This feature package exploring what marriage means in 2019—what it looks like, how it can fall apart, and how it can be pieced back together—is full of interesting, enlightening, frustrating, and tear-jerking reads. (New York)

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.