BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Less than an hour after being impeached, President Trump suggested during a campaign rally that the late Michigan congressman John Dingell might be “looking up” from hell — remarks that Dingell’s widow said “really hurt.”
“Mr. President, let’s set politics aside,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), whose husband, a World War II veteran and the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, died in February at the age of 92. “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.”

Dingell appeared Thursday morning on CNN, and host Alisyn Camerota queued a clip of Trump’s incendiary remarks with Dingell on a split screen. Her face remained stoic through Trump mimicking her voice in a phone call he made to Dingell after her husband died.
But her eyes closed tightly for a moment when Trump arrived at the line she knew was coming.
“John Dingell loved this country. He believed in bringing everybody together. He believed in our democracy. And my family’s still hurting,” she said.
But Dingell declined to escalate the war of words with Trump, telling Camerota that going “tit-for-tat” would descend to “his level.”
“I don’t want to politicize his death. It is still something that I’m really grieving over,” she said.

“We should take a lesson from this and all respect each other, period. ... Some things should be off limits,” @RepDebDingell says after President Trump implied that her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, is “looking up” from hell. 

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Trump made the comment while complaining that the congresswoman had voted to impeach him, even though he purportedly gave John Dingell “A-plus treatment” during his memorial services. Trump insisted he did not expect anything in return for such treatment. But he nevertheless expressed disbelief that Dingell would support impeaching him after she thanked him in a February phone call. At the time, Trump had ordered flags lowered to half-staff.

“So she calls me up: ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened, thank you so much,’ ” Trump said at the rally, mocking the congresswoman’s voice while recounting their call. (Dingell challenged Trump’s recollection Thursday and said he called her.) ” ’John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down.' … 'I said, ‘That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.’ ”
And then: “Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know.”
The crowd seemed unsure how to respond to Trump’s insult. Some groaned. Some cheered and clapped. Trump quickly added, “But let’s assume he’s looking down.”
Then he returned to Debbie Dingell, whom he also called “a real beauty,” noting he had been watching her on television during impeachment proceedings. “I look at her, and she’s so sincere, and what happens? ‘I vote to impeach Trump,’ ” he said.
Debbie Dingell’s colleagues and elected officials on both sides of the aisle widely condemned Trump for implying her husband was in hell while politicizing his death as a way to bash the congresswoman’s impeachment vote, calling the president’s words “reprehensible” and “shameful.” 

“What kind of a person says such things?” asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D).
“How dare you?” asked Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.). “I have no words for the pain you are causing my dear friend Debbie Dingell and the people of Michigan right now.”

John Dingell was a national treasure, a true patriot and a hero to many of us in Michigan. What kind of a person says such things? Is this what America has become? My heart aches for @RepDebDingell. Our country deserves better than this man. 

John Dingell served in Congress for nearly 60 years, from 1955 — when he replaced his father — to 2015, when he retired, and when Debbie Dingell succeeded him. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), called him a “great American who made a profound impact on our nation,” while Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) called him “my good friend and a great Michigan legend.”
“I’ve always looked up to John Dingell,” Upton wrote on Twitter. ” … There was no need to ‘dis’ him in a crass political way. Most unfortunate and an apology is due”

John Dingell was a great American who made a profound impact on our nation.

Debbie, the love & devotion you shared is an example to us all. While this President seeks to divide and hurt, let us lift up that love & remember the wonderful legacy of such a good & decent man.

Trump’s remarks on Wednesday echo his unrelenting attacks against the late Arizona senator John McCain even after his death, which have drawn criticism from Republicans. In the same way Trump attacked Dingell for voting to impeach him despite “A-plus treatment” for her deceased husband, he went after McCain’s loved ones for not sufficiently thanking him for McCain’s funeral.

“I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump inaccurately said in March, apparently referring to authorizing the military transport of his body. “I don’t care about this. I didn’t get a thank-you — that’s okay. We sent him on the way.” He then added that he never liked McCain and “probably never will.”
Trump’s comments targeting the Dingells appeared to particularly resonate with McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain.
She told Debbie Dingell on Twitter, “I’m terribly sorry. Please know that I am thinking of you.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday. Trump was impeached on abuse of power by a vote of 230 to 197 about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, while the campaign rally was underway. He was impeached on charges of obstruction of Congress by a vote of 229 to 198.

John Dingell’s death in February, following complications from prostate cancer, drew an outpouring of love and condolences from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. On Feb. 8, the day after he died, Trump issued a presidential proclamation lowering the flags to half-staff for one day “as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding service” of the congressman. A military plane also flew members of Congress from Washington to Dearborn, Mich., for Dingell’s funeral but could not land due to severe weather, so Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) led the group in an in-flight memorial service.
But on Wednesday night, Trump appeared to take credit for the memorial, saying, “I gave everything,” while referencing the Capitol Rotunda, where some deceased politicians have lain in state, such as McCain.
Dingell rejected Trump’s version of events on CNN and said no such requests or arrangements were made.

“John Dingell wasn’t in the Rotunda,” she said. “I didn’t want anything that was out of the ordinary or something where somebody would do something special.”
The World War II veteran was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, she noted, as a benefit of his service.
“The only person she spoke to while making arrangements was Speaker Pelosi,” Maggie Rousseau, a spokeswoman for Dingell, told The Washington Post. “And [Trump] called her after everything had been arranged.”
On Wednesday night, as news of Trump’s insult spread across the Internet, some unearthed tweets from John Dingell that disapproved of Trump’s behavior.
“We’ve had presidents of almost every stripe, but this one will be remembered as the smallest and most vile,” the former congressman wrote on Christmas Eve last year. “A petty man with no interest in a greater good for us. All I want for Christmas is January 20th, 2021.”

Trump has previously used John Dingell’s funeral to attack Debbie Dingell for supporting impeachment. On Dec. 14, the congresswoman made media appearances on Fox News and MSNBC to discuss why she “leaning” toward voting yes on impeachment, citing the White Houses’s attempts to “block key witnesses from testifying” and an inspector general’s concern that the president had undermined national security. That evening, Trump sent out a Twitter missive.
“The last time I spoke to Debbie Dingell was her call thanking me for granting top memorial and funeral service honors for her then just departed husband, long time Congressman John Dingell. Now I watch her ripping me as part of the Democrats Impeachment Hoax. Really pathetic!” he wrote.
The congresswoman appeared to take that outburst in stride, writing back to the president that she would always work with him “when he wants to help hard-working men and women,” but that she would also hold his administration accountable. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” she said.

Wednesday’s attack, however, exposed her grief in a public way, prompting Dingell to plead for a social course correction.
“We need more civility in this country. Some things should be off limits,” she said. “And you know what, we’re all human beings.”
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