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

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday condemned President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE's quip the night before at a rally suggesting that the late Democratic Rep. John DingellJohn DingellTrump suggests LBJ is in hell: 'He's probably looking down — or looking up' Change with minimal risk: Trump's Jimmy Carter problem 10 controversies that rocked the Trump White House in 2019 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 DingellMaking waves to protect America's waters Trump suggests LBJ is in hell: 'He's probably looking down — or looking up' 10 controversies that rocked the Trump White House in 2019 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 McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials 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 digs in on impeachment rules fight Pelosi faces decision on articles of impeachment Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks 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 MitchellSteve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment face-off; Dems go after Buttigieg in debate Trump's Dingell insults disrupt GOP unity amid impeachment MORE (R-Mich.) tweeted. “An apology is due, Mr. President.”

Another GOP lawmaker, Michigan Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 The Memo: Impeachment's scars cut deep with Trump, say those who know him Hillary Clinton defends Dingell as 'everything that Trump is not' 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.