Oct 18, 2018, 3:54 PM ET

Former congressman poses for photo with Native American statue he called 'Elizabeth Warren'

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Former GOP congressman Jason Chaffetz tweeted a photo of himself posing with a wooden statue of a Native American he dubbed "Elizabeth Warren" – a move which netted swift backlash on social media Thursday.

Chaffetz's photo posted in a week in which Republicans have been pressed to respond on whether they are comfortable with President Donald Trump's use of the term "Pocahontas" to refer to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her claim to Native American ancestry.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not say whether he believes the taunt, which is considered racially offensive, is fair game on the campaign trail.

“You know how the president likes to give nicknames to people. Elizabeth Warren is 'Pocahontas.' You noticed that Lindsey said he's going to have his DNA tested, did he mention that to you? The president will probably soon be calling him 'Sitting Bull'," McConnell said Tuesday night at an event sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation to discuss the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after the Senate voted to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the U.S. Capitol, Oct. 6, 2018, in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after the Senate voted to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the U.S. Capitol, Oct. 6, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Sitting Bull was a Native American chief who helped unite the Sioux in their efforts to defend themselves in the nation's Great Plains region. Pocahontas was a historical figure often revered for her role as a Colonial-era emissary.

McConnell was referencing South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's quip on Fox News earlier that day about hypothetically taking his own DNA test.

Graham said it would be “like, terrible” if he took a DNA test and found out he was “Iranian.” Graham is a frequent critic of the Iranian regime.

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, makes a point to reporters about Brett Kavanaughs accusers as he arrives for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 26, 2018.J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, makes a point to reporters about Brett Kavanaugh's accusers as he arrives for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 26, 2018.

Asked during a roundtable Wednesday with TV network reporters if his use of “Pocahontas” meant it was fair game for candidates to use such racially-tinged words to describe Democrats, he responded, “I don’t have a comment on that.”

Native American groups have previously criticized Trump’s invocation of “Pocahontas” to refer to the Massachusetts Democrat.

After he used the name at an event honoring Native American veterans in November of last year, the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, an association of American Indian nations, released a statement saying “the name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult.”

PHOTO: Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall style gathering in Woburn, Mass., Aug. 8, 2018.Charles Krupa/AP
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall style gathering in Woburn, Mass., Aug. 8, 2018.

Warren herself has also referred to her being called “Pocahontas” as a “racial slur.” She has defended herself against her critics by claiming she was told of her Native American ancestry by family members and that the registry entry was for meeting persons with similar backgrounds, rather than to advance her career.

A spokeswoman for Warren did not respond to a request for comment about McConnell’s statement.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. released a statement Monday criticizing Warren’s use of a DNA test to bolster her campaign argument.

“Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens... Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage,” Hoskin said.

During Wednesday’s reporter roundtable, McConnell also weighed in on the upcoming midterm elections, saying he believes the Kavanaugh confirmation was a shot in the arm for Republican enthusiasm which will pay bigger dividends “the redder the state is.”

As he has in the past, McConnell also named the Senate races he believes are the closest, most of which are states Trump won in 2016 but which have Democratic incumbents. Democrats are defending ten such seats this year.

“It’s pretty obvious that we have very competitive races in Arizona, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Florida,” he said.

But he said he would rather be in Republicans’ position, in control of the Senate with 51 seats, than in Democrats’, with 49 seats and facing an uphill climb to defend all ten states and make net gains in order to regain control of the chamber.

News - Former congressman poses for photo with Native American statue he called 'Elizabeth Warren'

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  • travis Dejesus

    The only thing flawed in McConnell's speech was that Sitting Bull united tribes under a common cause and "$hi_ting Bull" Mitch McConnell can at best manage only to divide most of the tribes in America.

  • logical

    i get that 'pocahontas' is considered derogatory, but why would standing next to a statue of a native american and saying it's warren be derogatory? she says she is one?

  • DuelingDogmas

    I wanted to take a picture next to Chaffetz, but apparently with him being a giant penis, walking around in public is frowned upon.

    Guess I'll have to wait for the WH tour so I can take that picture...I only wonder if I'll recognize him in a room full of pr icks like him.

  • David

    Warren is will cost Democrats the 2020 election of she runs, Chaffetz is an opportunistic quitter, and Trump a pathological liar. Can it get any more depressing?

  • Lifeishortgetaladder.

    that statue was carved by a real Indian. which he bled on and sweated on and has more Indian DNA in it than Warren ever will

  • kritikosman

    Jason Chaffetz is a CHUMP!

  • OliverWendellSr

    Ironic - Chaffetz converted from Judaism to Mormonism when it became politically convenient.
    Mocking NAs at Disneyland must just feel so Right to him.
    Sad.

  • Harry Anslinger

    Voting Republican in 2018 means you tacitly approve of racism. The Trump GOP has a casual acceptance of racism and under their "leadership" racists feel increasingly empowered to speak out and act out. They should stop. Most Americans are tolerant of our social differences and seek unity as a nation, not divisions and walls. Change the narrative, vote this November. Vote the midterms, send a message.

  • Enough Already

    Racism and hatred live in the Republican Party

  • rightened

    Oh, but remember, the President has NOTHING to do with this... naw, nothing whatsoever... it's just "DTS" at work, right?

    How can ANYONE be blind to how un-funny the public back-and-forth between Trump and Warren is?!? NEITHER of them are in the right, but Trump's repetitious "Pocahontas" statements have clearly influenced others.

  • tet1953

    It seems like republicans resort to vulgar or juvenile tactics so often.

  • PoppyLee

    McConnell is a coward.

  • Mikhail

    After Ben Gassey, Jason's life has been so empty. He is still searching for that new pastime.

  • Weather3014

    Warren brought this on herself - repeatedly. She claimed the Native American ancestry and like a poker bluff, she was called on it. Instead of folding, she wrapped herself in a cloak of indignation and shamefully turned this into some racial or ethnic issue. The results of the DNA test that at best show 1% Native American heritage if you count Peruvians, Colombians and Mexicans in the Native American gene pool really proves that she is not a Native American. The Cherokee Nation agrees. The New England Historic Genealogical Society couldn't find any evidence of Native American ancestry. It doesn't exist. Being called out for her false claim is not being bullied especially when she keeps claiming the falsehood despite the evidence. The best she could say is that her parents mislead her. PolitiFact has a good summary of the history of her multiple claims. Turning what should be truth into a question of politics is disgusting.

  • Scott Gore

    So Chaffetz decided to involve Disney in this with his photo. Wonder what the Haus of Mouse and Bob Iger want to do with that. I'm sure they're really thankful to be involved.

  • SittinOnTheBeach

    Is it just me or are the GOP folk getting more bigoted, hateful, misogynistic, cruel? Jeez. Everyday it's another stupid statement coming from some GOP moron.

  • tet1953

    All she ever said was that family lore included Native American(s) someplace in her ancestry. That was proven true, so...

  • running33

    Thank goodness Chaffetz has a FORMER before his job title. What a putz. His comment was something out of the Donald Trump Jr's playbook.

  • Waiting for Hubris

    Nunes. Chaffetz. Aren't they the same one?

  • (((Rocket Cat)))

    Man, racism just flying out of the gop these days. But, that's what gop voters want.
    SAD!!!

  • Waiting for Hubris

    Which one is the statue?

  • Verity Pendelton

    Chaffez is one of the most evil men to grace our government. We won't forget the damage he inflicted on Americans.

  • THEFred

    Chaffetz is a thoroughly corrupt has-been who was chased out of office in disgrace. He needs to crawl back into the woodwork with the other scum.

  • Hulk Slogan

    Ok, folks. That's called a joke. Maybe try getting a grip.

  • Prophet With Honor

    How would Mitch respond if an opponent called his wife "Suzie Wong"?