Pelosi slams Trump's attacks on Dingell: 'Cruelty is not wit'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump praises 'domination' of DC protesters Pelosi, Schumer say treatment of protesters outside White House 'dishonors every value that faith teaches us' Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday condemned President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE's quip the night before at a rally suggesting that the late Democratic Rep. John DingellJohn DingellThe continuous whipsawing of climate change policy A quiet, overlooked revolution in congressional power The Memo: Trump tests limits of fiery attacks during crisis MORE was "looking up," presumably from hell, calling it "cruel" and "sad."

When a reporter asked Pelosi at her weekly press conference about the attack on Dingell, the Speaker paused and closed her eyes for a few seconds before answering: "Let us pray. Let us pray for the president."

"What the president misunderstands is that cruelty is not wit. Just because he gets a laugh for saying the cruel things that he says doesn't mean he's funny. It's not funny at all. It's very sad," Pelosi said.

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Trump made the comments at a rally in Michigan around the same time Wednesday night that the House was voting to impeach him. He had been talking about how Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann Dingell18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards Pelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues MORE (D-Mich.), John Dingell's wife who has represented his old seat since 2014, was backing impeachment.

John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in history, died in February at the age of 92. Trump noted that he had ordered flags to be lowered after Dingell's death.

"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,'" Trump said, describing a conversation with Debbie Dingell.

"Maybe he's looking up, I don't know. I don't know. Maybe," Trump said, drawing some groans from the crowd. "But let's assume he's looking down."

Pelosi compared the dig against Dingell to Trump's attacks on the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMontana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight How Obama just endorsed Trump Former Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89 MORE (R-Ariz.).

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"The president clearly is insecure when it comes to statespersons, whether it was John McCain — think of what he said about John McCain and his supporters just overlooked that. John McCain. Now John Dingell," Pelosi said.

Debbie Dingell responded to Trump in a tweet late Wednesday night, saying that the comments were "hurtful."

"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 tweeted.

Other Democrats — many of whom served with the late Dingell until his retirement in 2014 — also expressed outrage over Trump's comments.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeePelosi makes fans as Democrat who gets under Trump's skin House to consider amendment blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance Bipartisan bill aims to help smallest businesses weather the coronavirus crisis MORE, who noted as he emerged from a Democratic whips' meeting Thursday morning that he "grew up knowing John since I was a kid," called Trump's comments "despicable" and a sign of a "missing heart."

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Some Michigan Republicans also called on Trump to apologize.

“John Dingell was a well-respected man & I consider Debbie a close colleague and friend. To use his name in such a dishonorable manner at last night’s rally is unacceptable from anyone, let alone the President of the United States,” retiring Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellDemocrats on edge over California special election nail-biter Michigan GOP congressman sues governor over emergency orders GOP lawmakers slam proposals for guaranteed income amid pandemic MORE (R-Mich.) tweeted. “An apology is due, Mr. President.”

Another GOP lawmaker, Michigan Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonBipartisan Senate group offers new help to state, local governments Bipartisan bill aims to help smallest businesses weather the coronavirus crisis Lawmakers press HHS for answers on coronavirus drug distribution MORE, also pushed back.

“I’ve always looked up to John Dingell — my good friend and a great Michigan legend. There was no need to 'dis' him in a crass political way,” Upton tweeted.