Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, shrugged off President Donald Trump’s tweets that jokingly referred to Native American genocide to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over her ancestry claims.
Cheney, appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” was asked whether she was concerned about the president seemingly making light of two horrifying Native American tragedies ― the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Trail of Tears.
“You represent thousands of Native Americans in Wyoming,” host Jake Tapper noted. “Do you have concerns about the president joking about these horrific tragedies?”
But Cheney, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, failed to acknowledge Trump’s tweets in her response. Instead, she attacked Warren, who on Saturday officially declared her presidential candidacy, over the Native American ancestry claims she made in her past and for which she has since apologized.
“I have concerns about somebody like Elizabeth Warren pretending to be a Native American,” Cheney said. “The notion that anybody of any political party would pretend that they were a member of a tribe or would pretend that they were Native American and would do it as she seems to have done it in order to get benefits ― that is, in my view, the disgrace.”
Tapper again pressed Cheney about Trump’s tweets, but she continued to dance around the question.
“Look, Elizabeth Warren has made herself a laughingstock,” Cheney responded. “I don’t think anybody should be surprised that that’s been the reaction to her. … It’s clear that she’s somebody that can’t be trusted.”
Tapper concluded, “OK, so no comment on what the president had to say.”
Trump made fun of a video Warren posted to her Instagram account last month that served as a preface to the announcement of her presidential bid. “If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” the president tweeted at the time.
“Wounded Knee” refers to the massacre of hundreds of members of the Lakota tribe, including children, by the U.S. 7th Cavalry near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota on Dec. 29, 1890. “Bighorn” refers to a famed battle in 1876 in which Native Americans annihilated Army troops commanded by Gen. George Custer in what was then the Montana Territory.
Trump continued to needle Warren on Saturday after she announced her presidential bid.
“Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore?” the president tweeted.
“See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” he added, which many saw as an apparent reference to the Trail of Tears, a series of forced relocations of Native Americans in the U.S. during the mid-18th century. They were forced to march hundreds of miles across the Midwest. Thousands died along the way.
Early in her political career, Warren referred to a distant Native American relative in speeches. Before that, she identified herself as Native American during her tenure as a law school professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. Last week, The Washington Post reported that she identified her race as “American Indian” on her registration for the state bar in Texas.
Last October, as she prepared for her presidential bid and in response to the controversies that have surrounded her ancestry claims, Warren released the results of a DNA test that showed the “vast majority” of her ancestry is European but that she had a distant relative who is Native American. Her decision to do so fueled greater scrutiny, with the Cherokee Nation calling the test “inappropriate and wrong.”
Warren personally apologized earlier this month to the Cherokee Nation for the DNA test debacle and having identified herself as Native American. She has maintained that her ancestry claims did not help advance her career in any way.
“I can’t go back,” Warren said in a recent interview with the Post. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”