Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday defended President Trump’s use of the word “Pocahontas” to refer to Massachusetts US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Trump made the comment at a ceremony praising the service of three World War II Navajo “code talkers” at the White House. The code talkers were Native Americans who served in the US military who used their own languages to transmit messages. The languages were essentially an unbreakable code.
During his remarks, Trump said, ‘‘We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what, I like you.’’
Sanders said at the press briefing she didn’t think “Pocahontas” was a racial slur and that the offensive thing was Warren claiming Native American heritage.
Here is a transcript, provided by the White House, of what she said:
Q: Sarah, at the event that the President just did with the Navajo Code Talkers, he referred to “Pocahontas” being in the Senate. Why did he feel the need to say something as offensive to many people while honoring the Navajo Code Talkers -- these genuine, American heroes?
MS. SANDERS: I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career.
Q: But she said it was a racial slur. She said it was a racial slur. What is your response to that?
MS. SANDERS: I think that’s a ridiculous response.
Q: If I could follow up with that, because the President was speaking at an event to honor members of the Greatest Generation -- people who fought in World War II, who are in their eighties and nineties now. And the moment had many people online asking whether the President lacks decency. What’s your response to that notion?
MS. SANDERS: Look, I think the President certainly finds an extreme amount of value and respect for these individuals, which is why he brought them and invited them to come to the White House and spend time with them, recognizing them, and honoring them today.
So I think he is constantly showing ways to honor those individuals, and he invited them here at the White House today to meet with them and to also remind everybody about what the historic role that they played many years ago.
Q: Why is it appropriate for the President to use a racial slur in any context?
MS. SANDERS: I don’t believe that it is appropriate for him to make a racial slur or anybody else.
Q: Well, a lot of people feel as though this is a racial slur. So why is it appropriate for him to use that?
MS. SANDERS: Like I said, I don’t think that it is, and I don’t think that was -- certainly not the President’s intent.
Q: Sarah, does he see --
MS. SANDERS: I think, like I said, I think the more offensive -- the most offensive thing --
Q: Does he see political value in calling people out racially?
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry?
Q: Does he see political value in calling people out racially? Why use that (inaudible)?
MS. SANDERS: Look, I think that Senator Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career. I don’t understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn’t constantly covered.