Despite bipartisan calls for President Donald Trump to apologize to Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) for his comment about her late husband, former Rep. John Dingell, the congresswoman has decided she doesn’t need one.
The newly impeached president had been complaining about Debbie Dingell’s decision to vote in favor of both articles of impeachment ― even though he’d honored her husband after his death, which he said the congresswoman had thanked him for profusely in a phone call at the time.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham defended Trump on Thursday, saying he was “just riffing” to his “very supportive and wild crowd.” She did not give an indication that he planned to apologize.
Before Dingell’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short, claimed that Trump had been kind to Dingell even though her husband had made “a lot of critical comments” about the president.
In a tweet last week, the congresswoman said she had been deeply affected by Trump’s “hurtful words.” She reiterated these sentiments on “Fox News Sunday” but clarified that she was not seeking an apology.
“It just sort of kicked me in the stomach. It was a politicization of something that didn’t need to be,” she told host Chris Wallace.
She said that she continues to be grateful that Trump called her to say he was lowering the flags in her husband’s honor after he died.
“I was grateful for the call, he was kind and empathetic, and it meant a lot to somebody who was hurting and loved her husband.”
But when it came to impeachment and showing respect for her late husband, “those are two different issues for me,” Dingell said.
“We have to learn in our country that you can disagree agreeably. I understand that this impeachment was a very personal issue to him but ... I think he crossed a line there.”
“I don’t need an apology, don’t want an apology, I don’t want a campaign to begin around that,” she said. “What I do want is for people to take a deep breath and think that their words have consequences and that they can hurt, and how do we bring more civility back to our political environment. The rhetoric in this country has turned so ugly, vitriolic and bullying.”
The congresswoman concluded her appearance by sharing words written by her husband after the death of President George H.W. Bush last year, which Wallace requested she read aloud.
“Frankly, I think this is an important message, particularly at Christmastime,” he said.
John Dingell wrote that Bush had been “horrified” at the hateful turn the national discourse had taken. Their message was that all Americans should treat one another with the same dignity and respect with which they expect to be treated.