Monday, October 15, 2018

With DNA evidence against him, welsher-in-chief reneges on million dollar bet on Elizabeth Warren's ancestry

Trump attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a July 5, 2018 rally in Great Falls, Montana. (Why pick on Warren? She’s a presumed potential rival for the 2020 presidential election. ) As usual, Trump focussed on Warren’s claimed Native American ancestry, calling her repeatedly “Pocahontas”. He walked the audience through an imagined debate in which (1) he presents Warren with a DNA testing kit, and (2) offers to give her a million dollars for her favorite charity. Trump said: “I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” he said. “I have a feeling she will say no.”

The offer was widely quoted at the time. For example, NBC News reported that Trump challenges ‘Pocahontas’ Warren to DNA test to prove she’s Native American, and RealClearPolitics reported that Trump Offers $1 Million For “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren To Take DNA Test To Prove Indian Ancestry.

The Daily Beast reports that, now fighting back, Elizabeth Warren Fights Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Taunt With DNA Test Proving Native American Roots. The senator sought to negate the frequent attacks on her claimed heritage. But for Trump and his allies, it seems, no evidence will ever prove sufficient.

It was President Trump, however, who said at a rally in Montana this summer that he would give $1 million to charity should Warren take a DNA test proving her heritage claims.

“And we will say, ‘I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,’” Trump said. “And we’ll see what she does. I have a feeling she will say no, but we will hold it for the debates.”

On Monday, however, the president denied that he ever said such a thing.

“I didn’t say that. You better read it again,” he told reporters.

Warren, eager to remind him of the pledge, defiantly tweeted Monday that Trump should send a check to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

The Hill, cited in the Washington Post coverage, quickly posted a fact-check result: “Trump denies offering $1 million for Warren DNA test, even though he did.” The Post has a comprehensive time-line with the evidence in Trump promised $1 million to charity if Warren proved her Native American DNA. Now he denies it..

Moreover, his mouthpieces are attacking the DNA report as “junk science.” The Post reports:

Earlier Monday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, dismissed Warren’s DNA test as “junk science,” an early indication that Trump is not likely to follow through on the donation promise he now denies having made.

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

It gets worse.

On Monday afternoon, Trump was again asked by a reporter about the promised donation, and this time he said he would “only do it if I can test her personally.”

Oh, good grief.

Remember that:

Trump has had a long history of making bold pledges to donate large sums of money to charity, without actually delivering on those promises, as The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold uncovered in a series of articles that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

I’ve got a few things to say about all that. First off, Trump can deny all he wants. Fox News, his own propaganda outlet, posted the evidence to YouTube. Click on the link to view the 2:35 video with the million-dollar promise at about 2:05.

Second, the report of the DNA analysis conducted by independent scientists supports Warren’s claim about her ancestry. “While the vast majority of the individual’s ancestry is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor in the individual’s pedigree, likely in the range of 6–10 generations ago.” This is not “junk science.” I’d venture a guess that Conway does not know anything about genetics or quantitative analyses.

Third, now confronted with the evidence against his claims, Trump says he won’t pay up because he never said that he would. Liar. As Post reporter David Fahrenthold learned, Trump has a history of welshing on payments to contractors, a history I reviewed back in June 2016, here and here. Coupled with the Fox News video, it appears he has welshed again, trying to get himself off the hook by denying what has already been proven.

Finally , Warren has opened a new web site show-casing her background. It does look like the kind of slide show that would appear on the large screens of a Democratic National Convention. Be worried, Donald. Go get’m Elizabeth!

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