Trump noted that Native Americans had been in North America longer than other groups, then segued into a crack about Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has been the subject of controversy for her undocumented claims of partial Native American ancestry.
“We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas,” Trump said to the elderly men.
Trump has used the insult, which many Native Americans find offensive, before, tweeting or retweeting the name 12 times. But doing so at a White House event honoring Native American service to the country crosses a new threshold for the president.
Warren, an Oklahoma native, has credited family lore for her belief that she has some Native American ancestry. But she has no documented proof and is not a member of any tribe. The issue became controversial during her 2012 campaign, when it was learned that academic publications had included Warren, a former Harvard law professor, in publications touting diversity. Warren at one point also listed herself as a minority in a major legal directory.
In an interview on MSNBC, Warren responded that “it is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it though a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House press briefing said that she did not think that Trump’s use of the nickname for Warren was a racial slur.
“What most people find offensive is Sen. Warren lying about her heritage,” Sanders said.
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