Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

Trump revives jab at Warren during war-hero event

Profile image for Laurie Kellman and Catherine Lucey
Laurie Kellman and Catherine Lucey, Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump returned to his own kind of code talking Monday by deriding Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" at a White House event honoring Native American war heroes.

"You were here long before any of us were here," Trump said as he honored three Navajo code talkers from World War II. And then he added, without naming Warren: "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."

In fact, Trump deployed that nickname for the Massachusetts senator repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign and, as president, as recently as a Nov. 3 tweet. Native American leaders have called Trump's past attacks on Warren offensive and distasteful.

Some Democrats have called the nickname racist.

Trump made the comment as he stood near a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, which he hung in the Oval Office in January. Trump admires the seventh president's populism. But Jackson also is known for signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, in which the Cherokee Nation was removed from its lands in what is now known as the "trail of tears."

The Navajo Nation suggested Trump's remark Monday was an example of "cultural insensitivity" and resolved to stay out of the "ongoing feud between the senator and President Trump."

"All tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy," Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement. He added that the Navajo Nation remains honored by the White House recognition of the code talkers.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked about criticism of Trump's remarks, said a racial slur "was certainly not the president's intent."

But the remark is the latest in a long list of remarks Trump has made about people from specific ethnic and racial groups. Announcing his longshot campaign for president in 2015, Trump said many Mexican immigrants are rapists.

He's sought to ban immigrants from certain Muslim majority nations.

He's come under fire for what some said was a too-slow federal response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. Trump also raised eyebrows for apparently having some fun in October with the name of the U.S. territory -- "Puerrrto Rico," he said -- at an East Room event for Puerto Ricans.

FEATURED PHOTO: President Donald Trump meets with Navajo Code Talkers Peter MacDonald, center, and Thomas Begay in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday. (Susan Walsh/AP)