Elizabeth Warren's Heritage Revealed in DNA Test Battle Against Trump - Rolling Stone
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Elizabeth Warren Calls Trump’s $1 Million Bluff

The Democratic Party leader and likely 2020 candidate is aiming to put questions about her Native American heritage to rest with the release of a DNA test

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren outside the the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, 2018United States Senator Elizabeth Warren outside the the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, 2018

Sen. Elizabeth Warren outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., 2018


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) rolled out a highly-produced retort to Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” attack on Monday morning. The five-and-a-half-minute video, which features interviews with Warren’s Republican family members in Oklahoma, her former employers and a MacArthur Genius Award-winning expert in DNA testing, seeks to put to rest questions the president has raised about her Native American ancestry.

Warren, who holds a double-digit lead in her race for reelection, has said she’ll wait until after the midterms to decide whether or not she plans to run for president in 2020, but the ad is the latest in a string of signals that the senator is already laying the groundwork. Besides releasing the requisite campaign book and sitting for a splashy magazine profile, the Washington Post reported Sunday that Warren has spent much of the last year doing outreach, donating to and campaigning on behalf of Democrats in all 50 states.

The video and DNA test come on the heels of an exhaustive investigation published by the Boston Globe last month, which found that Warren’s claim of Native ancestry did not factor into hiring decisions at Harvard Law or the four other law schools Warren taught at previously. In an interview for that story, Warren said that her decision to identify professionally as Native American coincided with a renewed romanticization by her family of their heritage, around the time of her grandmother’s death.

As one of the only women on the faculty at Penn and later Harvard, Warren told the Globe, she felt a need to assert, rather than hide, the characteristics that set her apart from her colleagues. “You can try to keep your head down or say: This is who I am. Different from the rest of you, but this is who I am.”

Warren shared a copy of the DNA results with Globe just before the video’s release Monday. The analysis, performed by Stanford professor Carlos Bustamante, whose research forms the basis of the technology used in commercial DNA tests, indicated that Warren did indeed have Native lineage six-to-10 generations back.

Taking the test, Warren called Trump’s bluff: At a rally in July, the president bet a million dollars that Warren wouldn’t submit to DNA testing — and if she did, it would not validate her claims of Native ancestry. “A million dollars to your favorite charity paid for by Trump if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” Trump said back then.

On Monday, Trump denied it. “I didn’t say that,” the president told reporters of his earlier promise. The Warren team quickly packaged that footage into a second video stamped with words “THIS IS WHAT LYING LOOKS LIKE.”

White House aide Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, sought to call into question the science behind the test.

“I know that everybody likes to pick their junk science or sound science depending on the conclusion, it seems, some days,” Conway said. “I haven’t looked at the DNA test and it really doesn’t interest me.”

Warren’s video comes on the heels of a bombshell Los Angeles Times report documenting the ways in which family members of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) profited from a “dubious” claim of Cherokee ancestry. McCarthy’s brother-in-law received more than $7 million in federal contracts intended for minorities after claiming to be a member of the “Northern Cherokee Nation.” (According to the Times, the group “has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe. It is considered a fraud by leaders of tribes that have federal recognition.”)

For many, Warren’s decision to submit to the DNA test called to mind Barack Obama’s decision in 2011 to release his birth certificate in response to Trump’s racist and false claim that he was not born in the United States. David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, raised concerns Monday that Warren’s decision to respond could elevate, rather than dismiss Trump’s attacks.

In This Article: Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren


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