White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended President Trump on Monday after he referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as "Pocahontas," dismissing claims that the nickname constitutes a racial slur.
"I don't think that it is and I don't think that — that was certainly not the president's intent," Sanders told reporters when asked if she considered the Native American folk hero's name to be derogatory.
While visiting Monday with a special group of Native American military veterans known as the "code talkers," Trump joked that the group has had "a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago."
"They call her Pocahontas," the president said in reference to Warren, who later accused him of being unable to honor the veterans "without having to throw out a racial slur."
Sarah Sanders: "I think what most people find offensive is Sen. Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career." pic.twitter.com/bLUsoq8K7z— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 27, 2017
Warren, a progressive icon among Senate Democrats, has long been the subject of scrutiny for identifying herself as Native American in a directory of law professors before she landed a job at Harvard Law School. Critics of the Massachusetts senator claim she did so to gain a competitive edge for the position.
But Warren has since said she firmly believes she is Native American.
"Being Native American has been part of my story, I guess, since the day I was born," Warren told reporters in 2012.
Still, Sanders accused Warren of "lying about her heritage" in order to "advance her career."
"I think Sen. Warren was very offensive when she lied about something to advance her career. I don't understand why no one is asking about that," she said.