Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks

House Republicans on Thursday rebuked President Trump’s attacks on the late Democratic Rep. John Dingell (Mich.) and his widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), with several GOP lawmakers calling the remarks inappropriate and urging Trump to apologize.

“It’s extraordinarily inappropriate,” Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeHere's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer Overnight Health Care: FDA adds new warning to J&J COVID-19 vaccine | WHO chief pushes back on Pfizer booster shot | Fauci defends Biden's support for recommending vaccines 'one on one' HHS spending bill advances without Hyde Amendment MORE (R-Okla.), a former member of GOP leadership who has served with both John and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellNearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel Mercedes-Benz going all-electric by 2025 MORE, told The Hill. 

“Anyone who served with 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 respected him, knew he was a very serious legislator and that he represented the House of Representatives with the highest personal and professional integrity.”  

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During a rally in Michigan on Wednesday night, Trump took aim at the family following Debbie Dingell’s votes in favor of two articles of impeachment, suggesting the former dean of the House was “looking up” from hell after noting he lowered flags to half-staff in the wake of his death. 

“She calls me up. 'It's the nicest thing that's ever happened. Thank you so much. John should be so thrilled. He's looking down. He'd be so thrilled,” Trump said. “'Thank you so much, sir.' I said, 'That's OK, don't worry about it.' Maybe he's looking up. I don't know.”  

The criticism of Trump was especially sharp from fellow members of Dingell’s Michigan delegation. Reps. Fred Upton and retiring Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellFormer Rep. Paul Mitchell announces renal cancer diagnosis Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting MORE, both Michigan Republicans, called on Trump to apologize to Dingell.

“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. Most unfortunate and an apology is due,” Upton tweeted following the rally. 

Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) said Trump should refrain from casting judgment on his critics and praised Dingell’s character, noting that while they may have conflicting views at times, she doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to attempt to smear a deceased member’s legacy. 

“I think it's really sad. It's a really, really terrible thing to say. It's Christmas, to make jokes about where people are spending eternity — you must be really sure about where you're spending your eternity, right? It's terrible,” she told The Hill on Thursday.  

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“Debbie and I don't agree on everything, but she's an awesome lady and she doesn't deserve to have her husband's legacy turned into a political talking point, a political joke. It's terrible.” 

Rep. Tom ReedTom ReedThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel Lawmakers brace for battles with colleagues as redistricting kicks off Hundreds of businesses sign on to support LGBTQ rights legislation MORE (R-N.Y.) said he hopes Trump takes the criticisms of his comments and uses it as an opportunity to reevaluate his discourse. 

“I was with Debbie, after the vote last night and she was obviously quite upset and, you know, I can, I can personally attest, in my humble opinion, knowing John Dingell and knowing Debbie Dingell, and they're honorable men and women,” he told The Hill.  

“He's resting well in heaven. And, you know, it's something I'm disappointed in, that type of commentary and, hopefully, the president and others will learn from it that this rhetoric has to come to an end.” 

Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Bold leadership is necessary to curb violence against youth Here are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act MORE (R-Ind.) said while she never served with John Dingell, she respects his service to the country, telling The Hill she was found the attacks “disappointing.” 

“Debbie is a friend, I never served with John Dingell, but obviously his contributions to our country were so significant in so many ways from being a veteran to serving here so long, so I, of course, was just disappointed,” she said. 

And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi Capitol Police asked to arrest the maskless MORE (R-Calif.) referred to both Dingells as friends, telling reporters at a press conference Thursday that he found John Dingell to be "a very strong individual, a very bright individual, and I think he made a great contribution to America."

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) said he isn’t in favor of the language used, adding that the stress of impeachment could have been a factor in the president’s remarks. 

“I didn't hear them until this morning and you know, it's not something I would have said. I'm sure he was stressed at the moment, I mean he's having a rally while he's being impeached,” he said. “Yes, there are some things that should be left unsaid."

Some retiring GOP lawmakers did not believe that Trump would level such an attack, even though he said it.

“I know you wouldn’t mischaracterize it, but I find it difficult to accept that characterization,” retiring Rep. Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns McCarthy guarantees GOP will take back House in 2022 Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day MORE (R-Ga.) told The Hill. “I’ll have to look at that.”

Debbie Dingell told reporters Thursday morning that the outpouring of support has come from friends on both sides of the aisle. 

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Friends she has working in the Trump White House reached out to her, though she declined to name any of them, and roughly 20 Republicans lined up on the House floor to offer their support, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Jordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 Stefanik calls Cheney 'Pelosi pawn' over Jan. 6 criticism MORE (Wyo.) and conservative Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants MORE (R-Texas). 

Some Republicans apologized for the president’s behavior, she said. Dingell told them they had no reason to apologize because they didn’t utter those words.

“Some of the Republicans said this to me today, that in some ways John’s still up there, because what could have been a really tough day on the floor [after impeachment] brought people together as a community because people are really supporting me, giving me hugs,” Dingell said. 

“I think that sometimes we forget that, one, the people in this House are human with all the emotions that other people have and, two, we do care about each other.”

Trump’s remarks come at an especially difficult time for Dingell, she said. These are the first holidays she will be spending without her late husband, and her brother-in-law, John Dingell’s brother, is currently in hospice care.

John Dingell, who held the title dean of the House because he was the longest-serving lawmaker, died Feb. 7 at age 92. Debbie Dingell said she was surprised by Trump’s remarks because he personally called her to offer condolences after John Dingell’s passing.

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But Dingell’s decision to fundraise off of Trump’s attacks also have raised some eyebrows. In an email to supporters, the Dingell campaign slammed Trump for “insulting the legacy of her husband.”

“We urgently need 500 supporters to step up right now and donate as a way of saying: President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE, you are not going to get away with bullying and insulting our congresswoman,” the email said.

Democrats were livid at Trump’s attacks. In a scathing tweet, House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDemocrats look to flip script on GOP 'defund the police' attacks Democrats hit crunch time in Biden spending fight Republican immigration proposal falls flat MORE (D-Ky.) called Trump “not only a criminal, he is impulsively cruel and truly rotten to the core."

“Hell will be too good for him,” Yarmuth said. 

Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeOvernight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 |  Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Cockatoo cooperation key to suburban survival Watchdog: Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' risks from 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-Mich.), a close friend to both Dingells, ripped the president’s comments as “absolutely despicable.” 

“He is the unique combination of ignorance and evil that I have never seen before. What he said is just pathetic,” Kildee told The Hill.

“It has nothing to do with the impeachment vote yesterday. But these Republicans who are wrapping their arms around him like he's the Second Coming are going to have to have a conversation with their conscience about whether they really want to embrace and express all this love and fealty to a guy who's willing to make that kind of a statement.”