The Chicago bar whose employee spit on Eric Trump Tuesday night said in a statement that the employee in question has been placed on leave, calling the incident "unfortunate" and its fallout "troubling."
"Last night an unfortunate incident occurred between an employee at The Aviary and Eric Trump," began The Aviary's statement, released Wednesday morning. "We did not witness the incident and we are just beginning to learn the details."
"What is certain is this: no customer should ever be spit upon," the Fulton Market cocktail lounge continued.
Multiple sources told NBC 5 that Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, was a patron of the upscale cocktail lounge at around 8:30 p.m. when an employee approached and spit on him. Eric Trump later confirmed the incident in a statement to NBC News.
"We have not yet spoken with the employee but our HR team has, in the meantime, placed her on leave," The Aviary's statement continued, adding that the establishment would not discuss internal HR matters any further.
Chicago police responded to the scene, with CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeting just before 10:30 p.m. that officers were "assisting the United States Secret Service with a law enforcement matter," adding that any further inquiries "regarding a federal protectee" should be directed to the Secret Service. The Secret Service declined to comment.
Eric Trump was seen leaving the bar in a motorcade of two black SUVs. In a statement to NBC News, he called the incident "purely a disgusting act by somebody who clearly has emotional problems."
"For a party that preaches tolerance, this once again demonstrates they have very little civility. We are winning and they know it," Eric Trump's statement ended.
For its part, The Aviary said in particular that the online discussion about the incident has been "troubling, adding, "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. 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," The Aviary said.
"We hope this incident can, at least, serve to illuminate the current absurdity of the discourse in our politics," the bar's statement concluded. "As fellow Americans and citizens, we should all aim higher."
Eric Trump tweeted photos of the Trump Hotel in Chicago at around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, with the caption "Always love visiting @TrumpChicago! It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world! @TrumpHotels," but made no mention of the alleged incident.
It was not immediately clear if the employee was taken into custody in connection with the incident, or if charges would be filed.
Tuesday's confrontation at The Aviary was not the first time the hospitality group that owns the bar has waded into presidential politics. The Alinea Group owns several Chicago establishments, including The Aviary and perhaps Chicago's most famous restaurant, Alinea, which is the only restaurant in the city with a three-star Michelin ranking.
Earlier this year, after the NCAA Champion Clemson Tigers football team was served fast food during a celebratory reception at the White House, The Alinea Group's co-owner Nick Kokonas tweeted an invitation to the team to come to Chicago "to experience what an actual celebration dinner should be."
Tuesday's incident was also not the first time a member of the Trump family has seen controversy while in Chicago. President Donald Trump himself has not made a public appearance in the city since a March 2016 campaign rally at the UIC Pavilion was canceled over safety concerns due to the presence of thousands of protesters outside.
President Donald Trump has, however, spoken or tweeted about Chicago often since then, highlighting in particular the city's rates of gun violence. He also called Mayor Lori Lightfoot in April to congratulate her on winning election in what she described as a "very cordial conversation."