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

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Sen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday condemned President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE's quip the night before at a rally suggesting that the late Democratic 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 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 DingellExisting technology can eliminate drunk driving Democrats to levy fines on maskless lawmakers on House floor Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege 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 McCainOn The Money: GOP digs in on defending Trump tax cuts | Democrats bullish on raising minimum wage | Financial sector braces for Biden's consumer bureau pick No. 2 Senate Democrat says minimum wage can be increased with simple majority vote State-level Republicans wracked by division after Trump's loss 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 KildeeBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Democrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help Biden's Pentagon pick puts Democrats in a bind 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 MitchellUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Juan Williams: The GOP's betrayal of America MORE (R-Mich.) tweeted. “An apology is due, Mr. President.”

Another GOP lawmaker, Michigan Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonState-level Republicans wracked by division after Trump's loss On The Trail: Little GOP interest in post-election introspection Upton becomes first member of Congress to vote to impeach two presidents 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.