White House defends Trump's Dingell comments: 'The president is a counter-puncher'

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 on Thursday described President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE as a "counter-puncher" after the president lashed out at Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Races heat up for House leadership posts MORE (D-Mich.) during a rally in Michigan on Wednesday night, suggesting that her late husband, former Rep. John DingellJohn DingellRaces heat up for House leadership posts Democrats flubbed opportunity to capitalize on postal delays COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (D-Mich.), was "looking up" from hell.

"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," Grisham said when asked why Trump made the comment.

"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 had been happening the last few days," she continued.

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She also thanked the Dingells for their service to the U.S. 

At his Wednesday night rally in Battle Creek, Mich., Trump said that he gave John Dingell “A-plus treatment” after he died by lowering the flags to half-staff and said that Debbie Dingell later thanked him. 

“She calls me up. ‘That’s the nicest thing that ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down. He’d be so thrilled,’ ”  the president said. 

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“Maybe he’s looking up. I don’t know. ... But let’s assume he’s looking down,” he added. 

He also went after Debbie Dingell, who was among the vast majority of Democrats who had voted to impeach him earlier on Wednesday.

“Now, they talk about this phony impeachment, and she’s up there, ‘Well, we have to look seriously at our president because he may have violated the Constitution of the United States,’ ” he said. 

The congresswoman responded following Trump's comments, tweeting that the president's words were "hurtful."

"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.

John Dingell was the longest-serving member of Congress and died in February.

The House on Wednesday voted, largely along party lines, to impeach Trump, charging him with both obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. Whether he is removed from office will be decided by a Senate trial.