Donald Trump jabs ‘Pocahontas’ Elizabeth Warren in meeting with Navajo veterans
Washington: US President Donald Trump punctuated a meeting with Native American military veterans on Monday by calling Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”—a racially-tinged nickname he’s deployed for years to belittle one of his chief Democratic antagonists.
“You’re very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump told three Navajo “Code Talkers” in a White House ceremony while standing in front of a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson, who led military attacks on Native Americans in the early 19th century.
Trump paused. “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,” Trump added, putting his hand on the shoulder of one of the Navajo men he was honouring.
Some people in the audience laughed, but the Navajo veterans didn’t react. The code talkers were recruited by the Marines during World War II to communicate using their native language and stymie Japanese code breakers.
“It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honouring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur,” Warren said in an interview on MSNBC after being shown video of the event. “Look, Donald Trump does this over and over thinking somehow he’s going to shut me up with it. It hadn’t worked in the past, it is not going to work in the future.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called “ridiculous” Warren’s assertion that Trump’s nickname for her is a racial slur, adding that was “certainly not the president’s intent,” in a briefing for reporters at the White House.
Warren is currently battling the White House over the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency she is credited with conceiving. Its director, Richard Cordray, resigned on Friday after placing a key lieutenant, Leandra English, in position to take over as acting director. Instead, Trump appointed his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, as the interim chief of the bureau.
English has sued to block Mulvaney from running the agency, a move backed by Democrats including Warren.
Trump calls Warren “Pocahontas” as a jab at her self-identification as being of Native American heritage. Reporting on Warren’s family is inconclusive about whether she is actually descended from Native Americans.
“Goofy Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, pretended to be a Native American in order to advance her career. Very racist!” Trump tweeted in June 2016.
Warren in a statement Monday said Trump had “stooped to a disgusting low.”
“This afternoon, in the Oval Office, Donald Trump was supposed to be honouring Navajo code talkers—American heroes who helped save the world from fascism and hate during World War II,” she said. “Instead, Trump stood right next to those Native American war heroes and came after me with another racist slur.”
Native American groups have criticized Trump’s use of the name of the 17th century young woman from the Powhatan tribe.
Yet, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement Monday that the “Navajo Nation does not want to engage in this dialogue between Sen. Warren and President Trump,” adding that “in this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy.” Bloomberg
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