President Donald Trump is back in Washington D.C. following a long Thanksgiving weekend, and he didn’t waste much time raising eyebrows. On Monday, Trump was behind a podium giving a speech at an event honoring Navajo code talkers.
While honoring them, Trump also spoke about his tax plan and other policies, but it was an off-the-cuff joke regarding Sen. Elizabeth Warren that took many by surprise, especially given the context of the speech and his surroundings.
“You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said to a group of Navajos code talkers. “Although 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, because you are special.”
Watch a video of the moment during the speech below:
Warren responded to Trump’s remarks minutes after he made them, saying during an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi that “it is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without throwing out a racial slur.”
Later in the day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump’s usage of “Pocahontas” in reference to Warren wasn’t a “racial slur.”
“Senator Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career,” Sanders said. “I don’t understand why nobody’s asking that question and why that isn’t constantly covered.”
Trump often used the phrase to speak of Warren, who noted during her Senate campaign that she had Native American ancestry. However, when asked about it, Warren was unable to back up the claims.
“These are my family stories,” Warren has said during interviews regarding her heritage. “This is what my brothers and I were told by my mom and my dad, my mammaw and my pappaw.”
This certainly isn’t the first time Trump has used “Pocahontas” to refer to Warren. He’s done it so much, that Warren commented on it during a recent interview with Stephen Colbert on his late-night show. She told Colbert that she won’t be discouraged by Trump’s “racial slurs” and his efforts to silence her.
“Donald Trump thinks if he’s going to start every one of these tweets to me with some kind of racist slur here, that he’s going to shut me up,” Warren said to Colbert on The Late Show. “It didn’t work in the past, it’s not going to work in the future. Give it up.”
Trump resurrected the usage of the nickname in a tweet earlier this month which accused Warren of agreeing with him that the Democratic presidential primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Prior to that, Trump frequently commented about Warren using the nickname “Pocahontas.” On June 10, 2016, at a campaign rally in Virginia, Trump said, “She’s the worst.” He continued using the phrase on several campaign stops and even while president, offering to debate her on numerous occasions.
On June 27, 2016, he tweeted: “Crooked Hillary is wheeling out one of the least productive senators in the U.S. Senate, goofy Elizabeth Warren, who lied on heritage.”
Monday’s speech was Trump’s first public event since returning to the White House following a Thanksgiving celebration with his family at his Mar-a-Lago estate. On Saturday, he noted on Twitter that he was going to golf — quickly — with professional golfers Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. Photos and videos of them on the golf course emerged from his golf resort in Jupiter, Florida.