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

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget   'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday condemned President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE's quip the night before at a rally suggesting that the late Democratic 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 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 DingellVirginia Democrat introduces tax credit for electric commercial vehicles More than 100 Democrats back legislation lowering Medicare eligibility age to 60 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Texas's near abortion ban takes effect 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 McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements 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 KildeeEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Dems demand accounting from Big Oil Bipartisan House group asks Biden to stop Canada's Great Lakes nuclear storage plans Toyota, Honda knock union-made EV incentive in Democrats' spending package 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 MitchellSeven takeaways from California's recall election Opposition to California recall widens in new poll CNN posthumously airs final interview with late Rep. Paul Mitchell MORE (R-Mich.) tweeted. “An apology is due, Mr. President.”

Another GOP lawmaker, Michigan Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes McCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump 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.