On Monday, President Trump again used his “Pocahontas” epithet on Sen. Elizabeth Warren, reviving charges that Warren claimed to be Native American for professional benefit, while a resurfaced report showed that Trump’s father lied about his heritage for financial gain.
On July 16, the Boston Globe reported that Fred Trump concealed his family’s origins to boost his real-estate business:
The family hid its German heritage, in large part because Fred Trump was trying to sell apartments, often to Jewish tenants, in the aftermath of World War II.
“He said, ‘You don’t sell apartments after the war if you’re German,’ ” John Walter, a family historian and one of Donald Trump’s cousins, said in an interview. “So he’s Swedish, no problem.”
In his 1987 autobiography “The Art of the Deal,” Donald Trump repeated the lie that his family was from Sweden. He later admitted that was untrue, and claimed German heritage in later books. When the Globe asked him about the switch, Trump explained it as sensible:
When asked why his father claimed he was Swedish, Trump told the Globe, “Well, he spent time in Sweden. And he talked about Swedish because of the fact, you know, we happened to be at war with Germany, which I guess makes sense in a lot of ways doesn’t it? But he spent time in Sweden.”
“Our country was at war with Germany,” he added. “So being from Germany didn’t necessarily play so well for a period of time.”
On Monday, during a ceremony to honor the surviving Navajo Code Talkers — who used Native American language to help the U.S. avoid enemy detection during World War II — Trump digressed from standard remarks and told the men there was a member of Congress named Pocahontas.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed suggestions that what Trump did was offensive. “I think what most people find offensive is Sen. Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” she said.
During Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign, it emerged that she had claimed Cherokee and Delaware Indian heritage based on family lore. She said she had gained no professional benefit from it.