Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) responded to President Trump's blistering, off-the-cuff comments at a "Promises Kept" rally in Montana Thursday by turning his DNA test theme to an election year hot topic: the separation of illegal immigrant families.
In a freewheeling rant that had the already raucous crowd rolling, Trump brought up one of his favorite Democrats to mock: "Pocahontas" Warren. In 2020, if he gets to debate Warren, he told the crowd, he "promise[s]" to toss over one of those $2 "Learn Your Heritage" DNA kits if she brings up her much-critiqued claim that she is Native American.
"We have to do it gently because we’re in the Me Too generation, so we have to be very gentle," he said. "We will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm, even though it only weighs probably 2 oz. And we will say, 'I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity if you take the test and it shows you're an Indian.' And we’ll see what she does. I have a feeling she will say no, but we will hold it for the debates."
In response, Warren hit Trump for "obsessing" over her genes and cited reports that the administration is using DNA tests to check claims of illegal immigrants that minors are actually their children after a number of migrants made false claims of parentage in hopes of getting asylum.
"Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you're destroying," tweeted Warren.
The "Pocahontas"/"Fauxcahontas" criticism began years ago when accusations of Warren's alleged use of her "Native American heritage" to get ahead in academia first surfaced. Warren has repeatedly attempted to defend her claim, but has received pushback from Native Americans and fact-checkers, who say she is at best 1/32 Cherokee, if that. Here's what CNN reported back in 2012 when the issue first came to light:
The revelation that Warren listed herself as having Native American roots in the law school directories set off a flurry of reaction from conservatives, who suggested she used the label to advance her career as a law professor. Harvard's campus newspaper The Crimson printed articles in 1996 and 1998 quoting law school administrators hailing Warren's Native American heritage as evidence of faculty diversity.
The New England Historic Genealogical Society provided CNN with initial research showing several members of Warren's maternal family claiming Cherokee heritage. The Native American link extends to Warren's great-great-great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith, who is said to be described as Cherokee in an 1894 marriage license application. NEHGS gathered that information through a 2006 family newsletter, and says the original application cannot be located.