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Pence’s chief of staff defends Trump’s attack on late congressman, notes John Dingell called Trump ‘imbecile’

  • December 25, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s comments last week in which he railed against Rep. Debbie Dingell’s vote for his impeachment and implied her late husband might have gone to hell.

Trump made the remark at a rally in Michigan on Wednesday as the vote on two articles of impeachment against him proceeded in the House. The president indicated he thought Dingell’s vote showed she was ungrateful for the “A-plus treatment” he offered to honor former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. – one of the longest-serving members of Congress – after his death in February. 

His widow, who joined the House in 2015, said the next day that Trump’s comments had made the first holiday season without her husband even more difficult to bear and that “some things should be off-limits” in political disagreements. 

‘Some things should be off-limits’:Dingell calls for civility after Trump’s attack on late husband

“I’m sorry that she’s hurting,” said Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” He said the administration respected the Dingells’ service to their country. 

But Short indicated that “in light of where we were” on Wednesday night as the impeachment vote unfolded, Trump’s remarks were understandable. 

“John Dingell was not exactly a wallflower,” he said. “John Dingell called the president an imbecile in his closing months.”

Short said that even though the former congressman “had a lot of critical comments about the president,” Trump “took time to call Debbie Dingell to express his personal condolences at the passing.” 

“I was grateful for the call,” Dingell said Sunday. “He was kind and empathetic, and it meant a lot to somebody who was hurting and loved her husband.” 

But she told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace the president’s comment about her husband Wednesday night “just sort of kicked me in the stomach.” 

“We have to learn in our country that you can disagree agreeably,” she said. “I understand that this impeachment was a very personal issue to him, but I think there are lines that you don’t cross, and I think he crossed a line there.” 

More:Trump told crowd at Michigan rally he’s ‘having a good time’ after House votes to impeach

Dingell did not call for Trump to apologize but said, “What I do want is people to take a deep breath and think going forward that their words have consequences.” 

Last week, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told ABC News the president is a “counterpuncher” who has been “under impeachment attack,” and when he made the comments before a “very, very supportive and wild crowd,” he was “just riffing on some of the things that had been happening the past few days.”

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