Former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday launched a new attack on Rep. Debbie Dingell, the widow of John D. Dingell Jr., the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, calling her a “loser” and suggesting that She had not been grateful for the funeral honors accorded by Mr. Trump to her husband.
The salvo from Trump, the Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential race, followed an appearance by Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, on CNN earlier Tuesday in which she criticized Trump's increasingly inflammatory language on social media.
Weeks before the first nominating elections are held in Iowa and New Hampshire, the former president has amplified his vitriol. This week he shared a word cloud that highlighted the word “dictatorship” and recently described people who entered the United States illegally as “poisoning the blood of our country,” comments that were condemned for being similar to the words of Adolf Hitler .
Dingell had been reacting to a complaint-filled Christmas message from Trump on Truth Social. Referring to his political opponents as “deranged” and “thugs” and accusing them of trying to destroy the country, he wrote: “LET THEM ROT IN HELL. AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
The congresswoman, whom Trump has held a grudge against for years, implying in 2019 that her recently deceased husband was “looking up” from hell, said it was another example of the former president fomenting anger.
“I think it was one of the most pathetic Christmas greetings I've ever heard when a former president of the United States who wants to come back tells people on Christmas Day that they can rot in hell,” he told CNN. “He is contributing to division and divisiveness in this country.”
Dingell's criticism appeared to corrode Trump, who has long had concerns about her, starting with her 2019 vote to impeach him for the first time. About nine hours after her appearance on CNN, Trump attacked Ms. Dingell on Truth Social, saying she had become an enabler of President Biden and his failed policies.
Trump returned to a familiar line of attack: her husband's death in 2019 and his funeral honors.
“When I gave, as president, her husband of so many years, the highest honors in the United States for his funeral, something really important, she called me, crying almost uncontrollably, to tell me that she couldn't believe that I was willing to do that for a Democrat,” Trump wrote. “She thanked me very much. Two months later, she was back on the road ranting and raving about 'TRUMP.'”
At the time, Trump had ordered American flags lowered to half-staff. He called Ms. Dingell to offer his condolences, but their accounts of that exchange diverge widely, with Trump repeatedly suggesting that he had played an outsized role in the “A+ treatment” given to Ms. Dingell’s 38-year-old husband. . years.
Dingell retired from Congress in 2014 after serving his district, outside Detroit, for 59 years. Mrs. Dingell ran to succeed her husband and has been elected five times. Her 2019 vote to impeach Trump drew the ire of the president, who made headlines with the comment suggesting her late husband was in hell.
At a rally that year in Michigan, Trump mocked Dingell for the way he said she had behaved during the phone conversation after her husband's death. He suggested that Mrs. Dingell had begged him to lower the American flags to half-mast and, apparently posing as her, said: “Do this, do that, do that. Roundabout.”
Mr. Dingell did not lie solemnly in the Capitol Rotunda. Mrs. Dingell has said that was not one of her husband's requests.
On Tuesday, she harshly criticized Trump and told CNN that his attacks had put her in danger.
“After he chased me, frankly, there were men outside my house with assault weapons and I received threats,” she said.
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