President Donald Trump was accused of using a racial slur to describe a U.S. Senator during an event honoring Native American veterans Monday, but the White House dismissed that claim later in the day.
Reason for the gathering
The Navajo “code talkers” were deployed during World War I and World War II to send messages between units in a highly secure code, aiding in the war efforts in an invaluable way.
Three of the 13 surviving “code talker” veterans were at the White House as a part of National Native American Heritage Month.
Fleming Begaye, Thomas Begay and Peter MacDonald were the three veterans honored. All three served in the Pacific theater in World War II.
What Trump said
After MacDonald finished his speech about the efforts, losses and legacy of the code talkers, Trump took a familiar jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people,” Trump said. “You were here long before any of us were here.
“Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you — they call her Pocahontas. But you know what, I like you. You are special people.”
Although Trump didn’t name Warren in his remark, Warren heard what he said and responded.
“It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur,” Warren said on MSNBC. “Donald Trump does this over and over thinking somehow he is going to shut me up with it. It hasn’t worked out in the past, it isn’t going to work out in the future.”
The White House defends Trump
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued against Warren’s characterization of the “Pocahontas” nickname as a racial slur, and criticized Warren for allegedly misrepresenting her heritage.
“Sen. Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career, and I don’t understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn’t constantly covered,” Sanders said.
Warren claims to be part Native American, although that heritage is not documented. She cites “family stories” passed down as the source of the claim.