News & Politics

Washingtonian Today: Kirstjen Nielsen Dined in Peace Last Night

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.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is out. According to Politico Playbook, Nielsen was spotted at the Hummingbird Bar & Kitchen in Old Town Alexandria as news broke last night. I wouldn’t blame her if she got the blackout chocolate cake—it’s been quite a week. She’s been replaced by Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. Nielsen’s departure means Trump has an acting OMB administrator, acting chief of staff, acting Interior secretary, acting Defense secretary, and now an acting DHS secretary. Let’s check in with George Conway: “I wish we had an acting president,” he tweeted last night. (Need help keeping track of all those former officials? Check out my story from this past December.)

Abramsmentum is upon us: Democratic rising star Stacy Abrams will appear at the University of the District of Columbia tomorrow evening to discuss her new book, Lead from the Outside. Abrams, who has yet to announce any kind of candidacy for the upcoming election, is polling the same numbers as Mayor Pete Buttigieg and polling higher than Elizabeth Warren with Democratic voters in South Carolina, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. It seems the popularity is carrying over to Washington—the event is sold out.

Happy Monday. I’m your author, Brittany Shepherd. Email me at and follow me on Twitter. If you subscribe to this newsletter, I will write you a haiku that could make the Golden Triangle signs jealous.

Yee-haw energy: Have you ever earned to relive the days of junior prom while eating a Bojangles biscuit? The Taste of the South is your event. Over the weekend I attended the annual black-tie affair often referred to by shorthand TOTS, and it was surely an experience to remember. Mix Southern food expo with ballroom prom and sprinkle in junior Hill staffers dancing to “Soul Man” and you pretty much get the main dish. I truly felt like a chaperone in my old age, wistfully yearning for the younger years where I could sip a Miller Lite and two-step to Donna Summer‘s “Bad Girls.” Who am I kidding? I did all that this weekend. Check out my Twitter for some more in the moment reactions.

Bonus: Florida’s booth was club themed. They did not play any Pitbull, to much (personal) disappointment. 🙁

Now for something completely different: Here is a colorized photo from the 1941 Cherry Blossom Festival. Is it assuring to know that there were crowds back then too? Probably not, huh?

What we have cooking at Washingtonian:

• We spoke to 18 federal workers about what it’s like to work in the Trump Administration. Many of them offered confessions like this: “I decided to stay, and I frankly waffled quite a bit. Am I doing any good where I am? Is that just a lie I’m telling myself because I have a comfortable job and a good paycheck? I have serious guilt around all of it.”

• Are you a native Washingtonian and miss the days when punk ruled? We found six Facebook groups for the DC nostalgic.

•Surprise! You are probably more allergic to cockroaches than to cats. Stop putting off your visit to the kitten cafe.

• I regret to inform you that a “Boutique Fitness Studio Crawl” is something that exists in 2019. Though, between us, it sounds pretty fun? Welcome back SweatCon.

• Next weekend, switch up your routine and consider drinking bottomless rosé and other non-mimosa drinks around town.

What does Jeff Bezos‘s divorce mean for his lavish DC life?

Our pick for things to do around town:

HOCKEY The Capitals’ playoff run officially kicks off on Thursday with the team’s series against the Carolina Hurricanes, but if you can’t wait until then to get your hockey fix, tune in to the Caps’ Facebook page for the inaugural Capitals Puppy Playoffs. Puppies (available for adoption from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue) will face off in a game of “hockey” called by Caps’ play-by-play voice John Walton and NBC Sports Washington analyst Craig Laughlin. Many of the puppies are available for adoption, so prepare yourself for a lifetime of love. 7 PM.

Good reads: 

• The new way to afford rent in San Francisco? According to reporter Thomas Fuller, digging through your neighbor’s trash. (New York Times)

• The complicated process of renovating Julia Child‘s Georgetown home. (Washington Post Magazine)

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.