White House calls Democratic witness's mentioning of president's youngest son 'classless'

The White House criticized Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan for mentioning President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE's son, Barron, during a Wednesday impeachment hearing, calling the remark "classless."

Karlan – while explaining the president's rights under Article 2 of the Constitution during the House Judiciary Committee hearing – quipped that Trump can name his son Barron, but can't give him a noble title.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not give him the power to do anything he wants, and I'll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is, the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron," she said. 

This remark, which prompted laughter in the room, was met with criticism from the White House, Trump's reelection campaign and other Republicans.

"Classless move by a Democratic 'witness,'" tweeted White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamIvana Trump on Melania as first lady: 'She's very quiet, and she really doesn't go to too many places' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump uses White House as campaign backdrop Coronavirus tests not required for all Melania Trump speech attendees: report MORE.

"Prof Karlan uses a teenage boy who has nothing to do with this joke of a hearing (and deserves privacy) as a punchline. And what’s worse, it’s met by laughter in the hearing room," she added. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Trump's sharp words put CDC director on hot seat MORE (R-Calif.) called the remark "absolutely disgraceful" while Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarPelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership LWCF modernization: Restoring the promise Trump tweets his people have all left Drudge MORE (R-Ariz.) tweeted that the comment was "gross and shameful."

"Just when you thought this impeachment hoax couldn’t get anymore ridiculous, the witness invited by Democrats is throwing cheap shots at the 13 year old son of @realDonaldTrump," Gosar wrote.  

 

Trump's reelection campaign questioned why it has been scrutinized for its criticism of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll GOP set to release controversial Biden report Can Donald Trump maintain new momentum until this November? MORE's adult son Hunter Biden, but that Barron could be mentioned. 

"So Hunter Biden is off limits, but 13 year old Barron Trump is not? This gets more unreal by the minute!" the campaign wrote. 

“Only in the minds of crazed liberals is it funny to drag a 13-year-old child into the impeachment nonsense," Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany added in a statement.

"Pamela Karlan thought she was being clever and going for laughs, but she instead reinforced for all Americans that Democrats have no boundaries when it comes to their hatred of everything related to President Trump. Hunter Biden is supposedly off-limits according to liberals, but a 13-year-old boy is fair game," she said.

"Every Democrat in Congress should immediately repudiate Pamela Karlan and call on her to personally apologize to the President and the First Lady for mocking their son on national TV."

President Trump's eldest child, Donald Trump Jr.Don John Trump'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic requests pardon from Trump: 'Be my hero please' Zaid Jilani discusses Trump's move to cancel racial sensitivity training at federal agencies Trump International Hotel in Vancouver closes permanently MORE, also weighed in, calling the comment "vile."

"How vile of a person do you have to be to attack a 13 year old child on national TV for laughs?" he tweeted. "Apparently, vile enough to be the supposed star witness for Democrats."

Later in the hearing, Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzLara Trump campaigns with far-right activist candidate Laura Loomer in Florida House to vote on removing cannabis from list of controlled substances The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from GOP convention night 1 MORE (R-Fla.) also confronted Karlan to her face about the comment. 

"It does not lend credibility to your argument. It makes you look mean. It makes you look like you're attacking someone's family," he said.

She did not offer a response at the time but later apologized for the remark. 
 
"I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president's son. It was wrong of me to do that. I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he's done that's wrong, but I do regret having said that," Karlan said at the hearing.

The House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing Wednesday, which featured Karlan and three other constitutional scholars. The White House declined to participate in the hearing.

Trump has denied wrongdoing as the House undertakes an impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine. 

--Updated at 6:19 p.m.