White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is defending Donald Trump after he insinuated that John Dingell is in hell, saying the president is counterpunching back at the long-serving congressman who has been dead for the last nine months.
Trump took aim at the late Michigan representative during a rally on Wednesday night, which was held as the House of Representatives voted to make him the third American president to be impeached. Trump had been taking aim this week at Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who has held her husband’s seat since 2014. Trump insinuated that Debbie Dingell, who previously announced her support for impeachment, should have been more grateful that he ordered flags to be lowered for John. Dingell’s husband was the longest-serving congressman in American history with 58 years in the House of Representatives.
It is written into U.S. code that the flag be lowered for the death of any member of Congress.
As NBC News noted, Trump took aim at Debbie and John Dingell again at the rally in their home state of Michigan.
“Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump said.
“I gave him everything. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything for anything,” Trump said. “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.’
“Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe,” Trump said as some of those in the crowd groaned. “But let’s assume he’s looking down.”
Trump faced strong backlash for the comments, with a number of Republicans from Michigan demanding that Trump apologize for demeaning their longtime colleague.
It does not appear that an apology is coming. Grisham appeared on Good Morning America on Thursday and was asked about Trump’s comments insinuating the long-serving congressman was in hell, and she defended the president by saying Trump is a “counterpuncher.”
As many pointed out, there was no punch for Trump to counter, as John Dingell has been dead for close to a year.
This is not the first time Trump has launched an attack on a long-dead member of Congress. Back in March, Trump took aim at Arizona Sen. John McCain months after his death from cancer, saying in a mocking tweet that McCain had finished “last in his class” at the U.S. Naval Academy. Trump was responding to reports that McCain turned over the Steele dossier to the FBI.