President Donald Trump's father, the late businessman Fred Trump, reportedly lied about his German heritage for decades as he built his real estate empire in the U.S. Trump's family history has come under renewed scrutiny after he mocked Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for claiming to have Native American ancestry.
On Nov. 27, Trump hosted three Navajo military veterans at the White House during a ceremony honoring Native American communications specialists in World War II. The president sparked controversy when he repeated his nickname for Warren: "Pocahontas."
"I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people," Trump told the three Navajo veterans. "You were here long before any of us were here. Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time ... longer than you -- they call her Pocahontas!"
In 2012, Warren was accused by Senate election opponent Scott Brown of fabricating her Cherokee heritage to procure employment with Harvard Law School in the 1990s. There is no evidence Harvard officials were aware of Warren's self-professed heritage when they hired her. Genealogists have not verified whether the Massachusetts Democrat actually has Native American ancestry, according to The Washington Post.
In June 2016, Trump began accusing Warren of appropriating Native American culture to further her political career.
"She made up her heritage, which I think is racist," Trump told NBC News.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders asserted during a press conference that Trump's use of the word "Pocahontas" was not racially insensitive to Native Americans.
"I think Sen. Warren was very offensive when she lied about something to advance her career," Sanders said, according to the Washington Examiner. "I don't understand why no one is asking about that."
Warren blasted Sanders' comment during an interview, stating that she had been told by her parents since she was a child that they had Cherokee heritage.
"I never used it to get ahead," Warren told CNN. "I never used it to get into school. I never used it to get a job."
In July 2016, Trump family historian John Walter disclosed that the president's father had lied about his own family heritage to further his career.
Fred Trump was the son of a German immigrant. Following World War II, he concealed his family history to sell apartments in New York, where he often had Jewish customers. For decades, the businessman told people he was of Swedish descent.
"He said, 'You don't sell apartments after the war if you're German,'" Walter told The Boston Globe. "So he's Swedish, no problem."
In 1987, Donald Trump advanced his father's false narrative by stating that his family came from Swedish immigrants in his book, "The Art of the Deal." He would later admit to German ancestry in 2000, after Swedish organizations inquired about his family history.
"Well, he spent time in Sweden ... Our country was at war with Germany," Donald Trump said when asked about his father's deception. "So being from Germany didn't necessarily play so well for a period of time."
Trump added: "It was never really something really discussed very much."
Sources: Boston Globe, CNN, NBC News, Washington Examiner, The Washington Post / Featured Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr / Embedded Images: Edward Kimmel/Flickr, Wikimedia Commons