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Story highlights

Donald Trump calls Elizabeth Warren "the Indian" in response to attacks

In 2012, Warren's past claims on a Native American ancestry came under scrutiny

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump responded to an increasingly heated series of attacks from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by mockingly referring to her as “the Indian” at a Monday news conference in Washington.

After a reporter brought up the Democrat’s recent criticism of him, Trump interrupted, asking sarcastically, “Who’s that, the Indian? You mean the Indian?”

“The problem with the country right now is it’s so divided,” he said, after touting his success in the GOP primaries. “People like Elizabeth Warren really have to get their act together because it’s going to stay divided.”

In 2012, Warren’s past claims about her Native American ancestry came under scrutiny, with her Republican campaign rival Scott Brown demanding she provide documented proof. But Warren said her heritage had been passed down in words, not on paper.

“Being Native American has been a part of my story, I guess since the day I was born,” she told reporters in May of that year. “I don’t know any other way to describe it.”

Earlier on Monday, Warren in a storm of heated tweets had called Trump a “loser” who threatens “to tear apart an America that was built on values like decency, community, and concern for our neighbors.”

“His insecurities are on parade,” she wrote minutes earlier, “petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, flagrant narcissism.”

Last Monday, Warren on Facebook called Trump “a bigger, uglier threat every day that goes by.”

“It’s time for decent people everywhere – Republican, Democrat, Independent – to say No More Donald,” she continued. “There’s no virtue in silence.”

Trump introduced the “Indian” insult during an interview later on Friday with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

“I think it’s wonderful because the Indians can now partake in the future of the country,” the Republican front-runner offered glibly when asked about Warren’s comments. “She’s got about as much Indian blood as I have. Her whole life was based on a fraud. She got into Harvard and all that because she said she was a minority.”