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Sen. Warren releases DNA results, challenges Trump to pay up

Updated October 15, 2018 - 6:43 pm

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took President Donald Trump up on a bet by having her DNA tested to prove her Native American heritage, which Trump repeatedly has mocked by dubbing her “Pocahontas.”

On Twitter, Warren challenged Trump to donate $1 million to her favorite charity. “Remember saying on 7/5 that you’d give $1M to a charity of my choice if my DNA showed Native American ancestry? I remember – and here’s the verdict. Please send the check to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.”

Warren, who is seen as a potential 2020 challenger to Trump, opened the day by releasing DNA test results that provide some evidence of a Native American in her lineage, though the ancestor probably lived six to 10 generations ago, according to the analysis.

Stanford genetics professor Carlos Bustamante found that the “vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, according to a Boston Globe report.

Warren’s campaign released a video in which Warren hit Trump for liking to “call my mom a liar,” before she asked Bustamante over the phone about her DNA. Bustamante told her, “The facts suggest that you absolutely have Native American ancestry in your pedigree.”

“She wants to put this issue to rest,” said Democratic strategist Maria Cardona of the Dewey Square Group, which has advised Warren in the past. “We all know that she probably has plans to run for president (in 2020). This puts the issue to rest, and probably on her terms.”

When a reporter asked Trump about the “Native American ancestry” pledge Monday, the president responded, “I didn’t say that. You better read it again.”

In fact, Trump pledged to donate $1 million to a designated charity, “if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian.”

Trump supporters responded that the Globe report found that with a 6th generation to 10th generation relative with Native American ancestry, Warren would be between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.

Native American groups also cried foul. University of Alberta Native Studies professor Kim Tallbear hit Warren for claiming Cherokee ancestry while “refusing to meet with Cherokee National community leaders who challenge her claim.”

Tallbear also faulted Warren for holding up DNA testing as authoritative, even though tribal leaders reject DNA evidence in favor of cultural and direct family ties.

Later in the day, Trump belittled the low percentage of Native American DNA in Warren’s genes — and said that he would pay the money only if he could administer the test himself. Warren responded that Trump’s comment was “creepy.”

The Association of American Law Schools identified Warren as a minority law school teacher, from 1986, the first year it listed self-identified minorities, to 1994, according to a review last year by the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking organization PolitiFact. PolitiFact also found no evidence that Warren had used her claim to Cherokee or Delaware heritage to special advantage as she sought jobs teaching at the country’s top law schools.

In September, the Boston Globe ran a story that found law school decision makers did not hire Warren because she identified as Native American. In a Warren campaign video, Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy asserted, “Her name with regard to racial minority hiring? No, never.”

But the National Review dug up a 1997 Fordham Law Review article that hailed Warren as Harvard Law’s “first woman of color” on the faculty.

PolitiFact did challenge one tale in Warren’s tribal paper trail. The recipes Warren contributed to a 1984 book “Pow Wow Chow” included the dish, “Cold omelets with crab meat.” Crab with mayonnaise, PolitiFact noted, is hardly traditional fare. Also, some of her recipes appear to have been copies from the New York Times wire service.

Massachusetts radio talk show host Howie Carr, a frequent Warren critic, tweeted a photo of himself reading the five-tribe cookbook and mused, “Hmm. I wonder what we’ll be talking about on today’s show.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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