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

White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report Jill Biden appears on Vogue cover MORE on Thursday described President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE as a "counter-puncher" after the president lashed out at Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDemocrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions Virginia Democrat introduces tax credit for electric commercial vehicles More than 100 Democrats back legislation lowering Medicare eligibility age to 60 MORE (D-Mich.) during a rally in Michigan on Wednesday night, suggesting that her late husband, former Rep. John DingellJohn DingellRep. Dingell hospitalized for surgery on perforated ulcer Races heat up for House leadership posts Democrats flubbed opportunity to capitalize on postal delays 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.