WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump used an event honoring Native American veterans Monday to take a shot at Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom he has long derided as "Pocahontas."
Trump welcomed three Navajo code talkers from World War II to the Oval Office. He called them "incredible" and "very special people."
And then he added: "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."
The Republican president has repeatedly mocked the Massachusetts senator for claims she has made about being part Native American.
Warren quickly denounced Trump's comments.
"This was supposed to be an event to honor heroes, people who put it all on the line for our country, who, because of their incredible work, saved the lives of countless Americans and our allies," Warren said in an interview on MSNBC. "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."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a racial slur "was certainly not the president's intent."
The president has long feuded with Warren, an outspoken Wall Street critic who leveled blistering attacks on Trump during the campaign. He has seized in particular on questions about her heritage, which surfaced during her 2012 Senate race challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
Native American leaders have called Trump's past attacks on Warren offensive and distasteful.
In a written statement, the Navajo Nation said that it "does not want to engage in this dialogue between Sen. Warren and President Trump."
“In this day and age, all tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said. “As Native Americans, we are proud people who have taken care of this land long before there was the United States of America and we will continue to fight for this Nation.”