President Donald Trump made a macabre quip about the late Democratic Rep. John Dingell at his rally in Michigan on Wednesday night, suggesting that Dingell was “looking up” from hell.
Dingell’s widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., responded on Twitter, saying: “I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine.”
Trump made the comment while implying that Debbie Dingell, who’s held her husband’s seat in Michigan since 2014, was ungrateful for coming out in favor of his impeachment.
“Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump told the crowd, noting that he’d ordered flags lowered after her husband died this year at age 92. John Dingell had been the longest serving member of Congress, serving for 59 years.
Trump said he gave Dingell an “A-plus” memorial.
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“I gave him everything. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything for anything,” Trump said. “She calls me up: ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down. He’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, don’t worry about it.’
“Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe,” Trump said to loud laughs and groans. “But let’s assume he’s looking down.”
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Trump said we wouldn’t go further into their conversation “because it’s not fair to do that,” but he said: “It was the most profuse thank you that you could ever get. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 10, OK?”
Debbie Dingell responded online a short time later.
“Mr. President, let’s set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder,” she wrote.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., tweeted that Trump should apologize.
Late in the 2016 campaign, Dingell, a World War II veteran, said Trump should “go to hell” in response to a Fox News interview where Trump said he “wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole” with then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain, now deceased, remains a frequent target of Trump’s ire.
“On behalf of so many of my fellow veterans: Please take two running jumps and go to hell, Mr. Trump,” Dingell wrote.
McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter, calling them “horrific.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that she had not spoken to Trump about his Dingell comments, adding that she is “very, very sorry for” the congresswoman’s “loss and I would thank her and I would thank her late husband for all of the service to our country.”
“He was at a political rally,” she said when pressed on Trump’s remarks. “He has been under attack and under impeachment attack for the last few months and then just under attack politically for the last two-and-a-half years. I think as we all know, the president is a counter-puncher. It was a very, very supportive and wild crowd and he was just riffing on some of the things that have happened the past few days.”