4 takeaways from Elizabeth Warren’s contentious interview on ‘Meet the Press’

Chuck Todd repeatedly pressed Warren on 2020 and her claims of Native American ancestry.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was interviewed by Chuck Todd on NBC's 'Meet the Press' Sunday morning.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren was interviewed by Chuck Todd on NBC's 'Meet the Press' Sunday morning. –Screenshot via NBCNews.com

It wasn’t quite the “full Ginsberg,” but Sen. Elizabeth Warren did a rare tour of the major morning talk shows Sunday, as she continues her campaign against a bank deregulation bill, which is expected to pass in the Senate.

The Massachusetts Democrat appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the PressAll three interviews touched on roughly the same subjects with Warren giving similar talking points in response to questions about everything from North Korea to the 2020 election. However, the senator was pressed particularly hard at times during the Meet the Press interview by host Chuck Todd.

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Here are four things to know if you missed the interview:

1. Warren says Trump is handing North Korea the ‘prize’

When asked about the recent announcement that President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sometime in the coming months, Warren worried that the Republican president may be out of his depths when it comes to the “complex negotiations” amid vacancies in key diplomatic posts.

“I want to see our president succeed, because if he succeeds, America succeeds,” Warren said. “The world is safer. But I am very worried that they’re going to take advantage of him.”

Warren noted that Trump wasn’t the first U.S. president to get an invite for a face-to-face meeting and said that to accept without anything in return — such as verification North Korea had frozen their nuclear program — he was “handing them the prize.” Trump said North Korea has pledged to refrain from any missile tests in preparation for the summit.

Still, Warren said the announced meeting was a “win” for North Korea that “legitimizes” their dictatorship and the nuclear weapons program.

2. Not sorry about calling out Democratic colleagues

Though she refrained from singling anyone out, Warren did not back down from her criticism of the bipartisan bill in the Senate aimed to provide relief to smaller banks. Todd noted that some unnamed Democrats on Capitol Hill were outraged that the Massachusetts senator called out the specific 16 members of her party who joined Republicans to vote to move the bill forward.

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Warren reiterated that she owes nothing to those who support a bill that she sees as a giveaway to some of the largest banks in the country.

“Look, I don’t understand how anybody in the United States Senate votes for a bill that’s going to increase the likelihood of taxpayer bailouts,” she said, adding that the legislation could lead to more discriminatory mortgage lending and is estimated to increase the risks of another taxpayer bailout.

“This isn’t Democrats or Republicans or blue states or red states,” Warren continued. “I think that we do better as a country and we do better as a Congress when we’re there to fight for working people and not for Wall Street banks.”

3. What’s up with those donations?

Even as she criticized some members of her own party, Warren also announced last week that she was donating $5,000 from her personal campaign to every Democratic state party in the country. Todd suggested that the contributions perhaps had something to do with Warren’s presidential ambitions, which she has repeatedly denied in the past.

“Are we wrong to assume you want to see your national profile raised by contributing to all 50 states’ Democratic parties?” he asked Sunday.

Warren said the move had more to do with 2018 than 2020, adding that Democrats need to invest in voter registration and basic campaign infrastructure to take back majorities in Congress.

“We need to get back some control in the Senate and in the House,” she said. “Otherwise, the Republicans just continue to run the tables.”

But Todd wasn’t satisfied with that answer and continued to push the senator, who’s perceived as a potential Democratic frontrunner, on the prospect of a presidential bid in 2020.

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“If you win reelection this year are you going to pledge to serve a full six-year term?” he asked.

Unsurprisingly, whether or not Warren has any 2020 interest, she had no plans of declaring such on Todd’s show Sunday, still more than two years out from the next presidential election.

“I am not running for president of the United States,” she said, using her previously used present-tense denial. “I am running for the United States Senate. 2018. Massachusetts. Woohoo.”

Warren added that Democrats couldn’t be a party that only pays attention to politics every four years and rattled off of a number of more pressing issues: the aforementioned banking bill, immigration, healthcare, and gun control.

Todd repeatedly tried to get Warren to commit to serving her full six-year term if she wins reelection this November, but the senator would only respond to that question by restating that she had no intention of running for president.

“So no pledge, though, on the six years?” Todd asked one last time.

“I am not running for president,” Warren said.

4. ‘I know who I am’

Moving on to another political question, Todd brought up a recent editorial from the Berkshire Eagle calling for Warren to take a DNA test to settle the nagging questions about her claims of Native American ancestry. In response, Warren recalled the story of how her parents met and how the understanding of her mother’s Native American ancestry was intertwined in the family’s history.

“It’s a part of me, and nobody’s going to take that part of me away,” she said, declining to answer the question directly.

Todd shared that his own family had similar stories of being related to Confederate Civil War commander Robert E. Lee, which were eventually debunked, and pressed Warren on what would be wrong with knowing for sure about her own ancestry.

“I know who I am,” Warren said, adding that she never used her heritage to gain any sort of advantage or special benefit. Her former colleagues have backed her up on that point.

Warren then used the issue to pivot to her recent focus on addressing the issues that disproportionately affect Native American communities, as well as Trump’s insensitivity on the subject.

“This is a group that is being injured every single day,” she said. “We need to bring some attention to it and we need to put some resources on it. And we need to make a change.”