(CNSNews.com) - At a White House ceremony honoring Native American Code Talkers, President Donald Trump on Monday took a jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), calling her “Pocohontas.”
“And I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her ‘Pocahontas,’” Trump said, referring to the nickname he has coined for Warren in the past.
“But you know what, I like you because you are special. You are special people. You are really incredible people. And from the heart, from the absolute heart, we appreciate what you've done, how you've done it, the bravery that you displayed, and the love that you have for your country,” the president said.
During the White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Trump’s comments, specifically why the president felt “the need to say something as offensive to many people while honoring the Navajo Code Talkers.”
“I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” Sanders said.
Warren reacted to the president’s comments, calling the word “a racial slur.”
“This was supposed to be an event to honor heroes,” the senator said. “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.”
A reporter asked Sanders to respond to Warren calling the word “Pocohontas” a “racial slur.”
“I think that's a ridiculous response,” Sanders said.
“Why is it appropriate for the president to use a racial slur in any context?” a reporter asked.
“I don’t believe that it is appropriate for him to make a racial slur or anybody else,” Sanders said, adding that that was “not the president’s intent.”
“Look, I think that Senator Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career,” Sanders said, referring to Warren claiming she was native American. “I don't understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn't constantly covered.”
The ceremony honored three of 13 surviving Native American Code Talkers during World War II.
Peter MacDonald, president of the 13 surviving Navajo Code Talkers, said during the war, “the enemy was breaking every military code that was being used in the Pacific.”
“This created a huge problem for strategizing against the enemy. Eventually, a suggestion was made in early 1942 -- February '42, essentially -- to use Navajo language as a code. The Marine Corps recruited 29 young Navajos, not telling them what they are being recruited for, because this was a top-secret operation. They were just asked, ‘Do you want to join the Marines? You want to fight the enemy? Come join the Marines.’ So they volunteered,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald, who is 90 years old, joined the military at age 15 in 1944 as part of the 1st Marine Brigade on Guam. He then went to North China with the 6th Marine Division “to get those Japanese in Northern China to surrender.”
“They didn’t want to surrender, but it took 1st Marine Division, 6th Marine Division to get them to surrender eventually,” he said.