U.S. senator, mocked by Trump as Pocahontas, cites DNA test

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom U.S. President Donald Trump has ridiculed as “Pocahontas” for claiming Native American heritage, lashed back on Monday, citing DNA evidence she said supports her assertion, in what could be a preview of a bare-knuckles presidential campaign in 2020.

For years, Trump, a Republican, has mocked the Massachusetts lawmaker’s assertion that she has Native American ancestry, calling her “fake Pocahontas” at political rallies.

In Montana in July, Trump said, “I will give you a million dollars to your favourite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”

On Monday, Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, released the results of a DNA test https://bit.ly/2OqLmUz that offers “strong evidence” that she does have Native American heritage, though only a small amount and going back many generations.

Warren also sent a series of Twitter attacks against Trump that called him out on his pledge, saying, “Please send the check to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.”

Trump denied having made the dare. “I didn’t say that,” he said as he left Washington to visit hurricane-stricken areas of Florida and Georgia.

In response, Warren posted a video of his remarks in Montana on Twitter with the caption, “This is what lying looks like.”

She asked, “Having some memory problems, @realDonaldTrump? Should we call for a doctor?

“Here’s something you won’t ‘forget,’ Mr. President: You’re the least popular president in modern history & your allies will go down hard in the midterm elections. 22 days. Tick-tock.”

Warren, who clashed repeatedly with Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, is widely seen as a likely challenger to Trump when he runs for re-election in 2020. The statement on her DNA test was accompanied by a website that includes videos and testimonials about her past and heritage.

Like many Americans, Warren has said that she learned about her ethnic and cultural heritage from her parents.

“When I decided to run for Senate in 2012, I never thought that my family’s Native American heritage would come under attack and my dead parents would be called liars,” she said. “And I never expected the president of the United States to use my family’s story as a racist political joke.”

The analysis of Warren’s DNA was done by Carlos Bustamante, a Stanford University professor. He concluded that most of the senator’s DNA shows European ancestry, but that it has a Native-American segment. Warren has said that her Native-American ancestry possibly goes back to the 1700s, including Cherokee blood on her mother’s side, according to family lore.

Warren acknowledged in May 2012, during her run for the Senate, that she told two prestigious law schools she had Native American heritage, but she disputed suggestions that she used her ethnicity to help gain employment at the universities. Warren hails from Oklahoma, which has among the highest proportion of people with Native American ethnicity in the country.

During her Senate bid, her campaign said she is 1/32nd Cherokee. That would be the equivalent of having a Cherokee among her great-great-great grandparents.

Known as a liberal firebrand, Warren has championed student loan reform and a higher minimum wage. She was an architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency set up after the 2008 financial crisis, and she has been a strong voice in the U.S. Senate on financial issues.

Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” refers to a 17th century Native American woman who played a role in the English colony in Jamestown, Virginia. Trump’s mocking reference has drawn criticism from Native American groups.

Warren, campaigning with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, attacked Trump as an “insecure money grubber” driven by greed and hate.

As he left the White House on Monday, Trump was asked by reporters about Warren possibly challenging him in two years. “I hope she’s running for president, because I think she’ll be very easy,” he said.