Despite a bipartisan wave of backlash, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) continues to defend her release of a DNA test this week that showed — at best — that she has a trace amount of Native American ancestry.
What reason did she give?
Warren released the results just ahead of the midterm elections to refute taunts from President Donald Trump and her Senate challengers, the Boston Globe reported.
“I have an election,” Warren told the newspaper's editorial board. “Donald Trump goes in front of crowds multiple times a week to attack me. Both of my opponents have made the same attack. I got this analysis back, and I made it public.”
The DNA test released by Warren on Monday suggested she had at least one indigenous ancestor dating back at least six generations and possibly as many as 10. She also released a campaign video relating a story about a Native American on her mother’s side.
President Trump has repeatedly mocked Warren for claiming she is part Native American. Republicans also mocked Warren after she released the results of the DNA test.
Warren has claimed to be Native American on a number of occasions, including after she was hired by the University of Pennsylvania. As a former professor at Harvard Law School, Warren had listed herself as a member of a minority group in a law school directory, the New York Times reported.
Warren has also repeatedly told a story about how her parents had to elope in 1932 because her paternal grandparents were racist toward her mother’s Cherokee Indian blood.
Warren in 1984 contributed five recipes to a Native American cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow,” according to Politifact. She used the tagline “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee,” under each recipe.
The test results found Warren had five segments of potentially Native American ancestry, although the results indicated that the tests in fact only checked for Mexican, Peruvian and Colombian ancestry, since there are not enough Native Americans who have submitted DNA to databases to make definitive comparisons possible.
Following the announcement, prominent members of the Cherokee Nation accused Warren of trying to claim indigenous ancestry for political purposes.
“It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. “Sen. Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”
Trump used the opportunity to ramp up his attack on Warren.
The president wrote on Twitter:
“Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed. She took a bogus DNA test and it showed that she may be 1/1024, far less than the average American. Now Cherokee Nation denies her, “DNA test is useless.” Even they don’t want her. Phony!”
Trump wasn't the only one to launch an attack. Blackfeet Nation member Gyasi Ross told MSNBC that Warren is now as guilty as Trump of “making indigenous ancestry into a campaign prop.”
Liberal analyst Chris Cillizza of CNN also chimed in, saying: “If Warren thought that this video and DNA test would shut Trump up, she was dangerously mistaken."
Liberal columnist Dana Milbank criticized Warren in the Washington Post. “She took Trump’s DNA-test dare and let him divide us — again — by race and ethnicity,” he wrote. “Just as he did when he goaded President Barack Obama to prove his legitimacy by producing his birth certificate.”
Some people have defended Warren, however.
“The Democratic senator’s DNA test wasn’t a mere rebuttal of Trump,” Jonathan Bernstein wrote in an opinion piece for Bloomberg News. “It also shows she’s a presidential contender.”
As Warren has defended the test, she also has attempted to clarify the remarks she made during law school.
“There’s a distinction between [tribal] citizenship and ancestry,” she told the Boston Globe. “I’m not a citizen, never have claimed to be, and I wish I had been more mindful of that 30 years ago.”