President Donald Trump drew wide criticism this week for racially charged comments and Twitter activity, drawing mixed responses from North Dakota and Minnesota leaders.
At a Monday event at the White House honoring Navajo Code talkers, Trump invoked the pejorative nickname he's previously used for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.-"Pocahontas"-in describing a "representative in Congress who has been here a long time." The comment, an apparent barb at Warren's prior claim she is part Native American, has been condemned by Native American advocates, while Warren herself has called it a "racial slur."
On Wednesday, Trump retweeted videos from a leader of a far-right British group that claimed to show a young migrant Muslim beating a child, another destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary and group of Muslims pushing a teen off a roof and beating him to death. The group has a history of publishing misleading videos. British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the retweets, saying that the far-right group attempts to "divide communities in their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions."
The White House has defended the use of the term "Pocahontas," arguing that a racial slight was not the President's intent. Trump responded to May's comments on Twitter, telling her to "focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom."
Here's how North Dakota and Minnesota leaders responded to Trump's words and actions:
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Hoeven's office said in an email that the senator didn't think Trump's use of "Pocahontas" was a racial slur, explaining that "the White House said the President did not intend his remark" as such. Hoeven's office added that the senator's work with tax changes meant he hadn't had time to watch the videos Trump retweeted.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp., D-N.D.
Heitkamp, in statements provided by her office, called Trump's use of "Pocahontas" as a "slur," calling it both inappropriate for the occasion and offensive to "the contributions of an important Native American historical figure."
Addressing Trump's retweets, Heitkamp added that "if the president wants to have a productive conversation about national security, as he claims, he's not doing himself or our country any favors by sharing offensive tweets from a group known for its hateful rhetoric."
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
Cramer was unable to be reached for comment by the Herald.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Klobuchar stopped short of calling the use of "Pocahontas" a slur, but said in a statement provided by her office that it was "mocking" and "inappropriate."
"They are divisive," she said of Trump's recent twitter activity. "The President should stop the tweeting and start working with Republicans and Democrats across the aisle on the important economic matters at hand."
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
A representative for Franken's office said a response to the Herald's questions would not be available in time for this article.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
Peterson's office did not respond to a request for comment.