Trump revived his derogatory nickname for Sen. Warren today, calling her Pocahontas during a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes. Photos: AP

President Trump brought back his derogatory nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today, this time during a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes: "You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas," he said.

Why it matters: Trump cooked up several demeaning nicknames for his opponents and critics during the campaign, from "Lyin' Ted" Cruz and "Lil' Marco" Rubio to "Crooked Hillary" Clinton. But as Warren pointed out, using "Pocahontas" in such a context is considered by some Native Americans to be an ethnic slur.

The facts

How it started

  • In 1996, Harvard Law School touted Warren, then a professor at the university, as being "Native American" in a letter responding to criticism of the school's lack of minority women.
  • In 2012, Scott Brown, the former GOP senator Warren unseated and current ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, used Warren's self-proclaimed Native American heritage to question her integrity. In 2016, Brown also said Warren should "take a DNA test" if she wants to prove her heritage.
  • Warren defended her claims, telling NPR in 2012 that while growing up in Oklahoma, her family always told her she's part Cherokee. "These are my family stories," she said. "This is our lives. And I'm very proud of it." However she said she didn't have documentation to prove it.
  • Fact-checkers attempted to trace her ancestry, but after several failed attempts the consensus was that there is no documented evidence that she is of Native American heritage. Experts have also noted that any such evidence is difficult to prove to begin with.

How Trump has continued using it

During his presidential campaign, Trump used the controversy to attempt to discredit her criticism of him. Some examples:

  • March 2016, to the NYT: "She's got about as much Indian blood as I have. Her whole life was based on a fraud. She got into Harvard and all that because she said she was a minority."
  • June 2016, on Twitter: "Crooked Hillary is wheeling out one of the least productive senators in the U.S. Senate, goofy Elizabeth Warren, who lied on heritage."
  • June 2016, Trump campaign rally in Virginia: "Pocahontas is not happy, she's not happy. She's the worst. You know, Pocahontas I'm doing such a disservice to Pocahontas, it's so unfair to Pocahontas — but this Elizabeth Warren, I call her 'goofy,' Elizabeth Warren, she's one of the worst senators in the entire United States Senate.
What they're saying

Reaction in 2016

  • Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, told the Post that Trump's attacks were racist and inappropriate "If you said this in a sixth-grade class, the teacher would tell you, 'Don't say this.'"
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): "I just don't engage in personal insults — that is a personal insult," he said.
  • Sen. Warren on Twitter: "If you think recycling Scott Brown's hate-filled attacks on my family is going to shut me up, @realDonaldTrump, think again buddy. Weak."
  • Mary Kathryn Nagle, a playwright, attorney and citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma told MSNBC: "Trump's inability to discern the difference between Sen. Warren and Pocahontas is no accident. Instead, his attack on her native identity reflects a dominant American culture that has made every effort to diminish native women to nothing other than a fantastical, oversexualized, Disney character."

Reaction today

  • WH Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Monday: "I think what most people find offensive is Elizabeth Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career
  • Sen. Warren told MSNBC: "It was deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without throwing out a racial slur."
  • Rep Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) on Twitter Monday: "Trump calling @SenWarren "Pocahontas" one the 3rd day of #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth proves again how crass & out-of-touch he is w/ Natives."
  • Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes on Twitter: "President Trump decided to deviate from the focus [of the event] to take a swipe at a political opponent ... American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults. To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs."
Go deeper

Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our Smart Brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Tim Scott says Trump "misspoke" when he told Proud Boys to "stand by"

Photo: Bonnie Cash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters on Wednesday that he believes President Trump "misspoke" when he told the far-right "Proud Boys" group to "stand back and stand by" in response to a question about condemning white supremacy at the first presidential debate.

Catch up quick: Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump on Tuesday, "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down?" Trump asked who specifically he should condemn, and then responded, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Commission on Presidential Debates wants changes

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that it plans to implement changes to rules for the remaining debates, after Tuesday night's head-to-head between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was practically incoherent for most of the night.

What they are saying: "Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the CPD said in a statement.

Trump says he doesn't know who Proud Boys are after telling them to "stand by"

President Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are, after saying at the presidential debate last night that the far-right group should "stand back and stand by" in response to a question asking him to condemn white supremacists.

Why it matters: The comments set off outrage and calls for clarification from a number of Republican senators. After being asked several times on Wednesday whether he will condemn white supremacy, Trump responded, "I have always denounced any form — any form of any of that, you have to denounce. But I also — Joe Biden has to say something about antifa."