Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is featuring President Trump’s “Pocahontas” dig in a new fundraising email to supporters.
The senator has accused Trump of attacking her with a “racist slur” during a ceremony Monday at the White House honoring World War II Navajo code talkers.
“Trump stood right next to those Native American war heroes and came after me with another racist slur,” she states in the email dispatch.
During the ceremony, Trump told the code talkers, now in their 90s: “You’re very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what? I like you. Because you are special.”
Trump frequently referred to Warren during the 2016 presidential campaign as “Fauxcahontas,” playing on the senator’s unsubstantiated claim that she might be 1/32 Cherokee.
A month after the issue surfaced during her 2012 run for the Senate, Warren finally acknowledged that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania she was Native American, but she insisted that race played no role in her recruitment by those institutions.
Previously, she said she first learned Harvard was claiming her as a minority when she read it in the conservative Boston Herald in 2012.
However, the Boston Globe reported at the time that it had obtained records from Harvard’s library showing that the university’s law school began reporting a Native American female professor in federal statistics for the 1992-93 school year, the first year Warren worked at Harvard, as a visiting professor.
In addition, her name appeared in a 1996 article in the Harvard Crimson campus newspaper about Harvard Law School students expressing dissatisfaction with the faculty’s level of diversity.
A law-school spokesman told the paper Warren is Native American.
Warren has described herself as having Cherokee and Delaware Indian ancestry, pointing to “family stories” told “by my mom and my dad, my mammaw and my pappaw.”
However, the Atlantic reported in May 2012 that Warren was “unable to point to evidence of Native heritage except for an unsubstantiated thirdhand report that she might be 1/32 Cherokee.”
“Even if it could be proven, it wouldn’t qualify her to be a member of a tribe,” the magazine said.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column was unable to prove Warren’s claimed heritage, advising “readers to look into it on their own and decide whether Trump’s attacks over Warren’s background have merit.”
In June 2016, after Warren’s first campaign appearance with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump tweeted that Warren “lied on heritage.”
Later, Trump went further in an NBC News interview in which he called her a “racist” and a “total fraud.”
“She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career,” he said. “Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it. Other people who work with her know it. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”
The Media Research Center’s Newsbusters website reported the evening news programs of the big three networks Monday brushed over the origin of the moniker Trump used.
“NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt declared: “It is a derogatory nickname he often uses to attack Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren but the place and moment has the White House tonight defending the president from accusations of racial insensitivity.”
Attack on ‘my family’
In her fundraising email in response to the White House event Monday, Warren appeared to maintain she is Native American, referring to Trump’s remark as an attack on her “family.”
“Let’s show Donald Trump that we’re sick of his racist slurs by getting to work to fight his agenda,” she writes. “Donald Trump can keep attacking my family – but I’m going to keep fighting for yours.”
At the White House press briefing Monday, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about Trump’s use of the “offensive” term.
“I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” Sanders said.
The National Congress of American Indians condemned Trump in a statement.
“We regret that the president’s use of the name Pocahontas as a slur to insult a political adversary is overshadowing the true purpose of today’s White House ceremony,” stated NCAI President Jefferson Keel.
“Today was about recognizing the remarkable courage and invaluable contributions of our Native code talkers.”
Paul Mirengoff, who writes for the right-leaning blog Powerline, agreed it was “unfortunate” that Trump didn’t “make it through a ceremony without taking a shot at a political enemy,” but he insisted calling someone who has falsely claimed to be a Native American is a “tired joke,” not a racial slur.
Fellow Powerline blogger John Hinderaker added that Trump’s comment “was obviously not a racial slur.”
“He mocked Elizabeth Warren not because she is an Indian – that would be a racial slur – but precisely because she is NOT Native American, contrary to her repeated claims and her affirmative action-fueled career,” he wrote.
“Warren has been exposed as a liar, and for her to defend herself by playing the race card is really beneath contempt.”