CEDAR RAPIDS — On her first full day as an official presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren opened an event in Iowa on Sunday by suggesting that Donald Trump may be going to prison before the 2020 election and thus candidates and the media should ignore him.
The direct jab at the president comes a day after Trump mocked her presidential announcement in Lawrence on Saturday in a tweet that referred to her past claims of Native American ancestry with an apparent joke about the Trail of Tears.
“Every day there’s a racist tweet, a hateful tweet, something really dark and ugly,” Warren told a crowd in the basement of the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids on Sunday morning. “And what are we as candidates, as activists, as the press, going to do about that? Are we going to chase after those every day?”
Warren argued the answer should be no, because Trump may soon find himself in prison — presumably a reference to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
“Here’s what bothers me: By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president,” she said. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.”
Warren has been careful not to center her campaign speeches on opposition to Trump, making a point of arguing that even before Trump’s election she arguing that Washington corruption furthers economic inequality. That means she often lets Trump’s attacks on her on Twitter go unanswered. The Massachusetts senator explained why after suggesting Trump may end up in jail.
“Our job as we start rolling into the election is not just to respond on a daily basis [to Trump], it’s to talk about what we understand that is broken in this country, talk about what needs to be done to change it and talk about how we’re going to do that,” Warren said.
Later, a voter asked Warren if she supported impeaching the president. “I think it’s important that we protect the Mueller investigation, that we absolutely insist that the entire report be made public when it is completed and then we will know what to do,” Warren said.
Warren made the remarks at the first of three events in Eastern Iowa on Sunday — her second swing through the state.
Warren filled up every venue she hit in Western Iowa in early January, when she was the first top-tier candidate to visit the state after declaring an exploratory committee. Voters spilled into a parking lot outside a bowling alley in Council Bluffs, squeezed into a community center in Storm Lake, and lined up down the road in Des Moines.
But in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, she drew just 200 people on a snowy Sunday morning, leaving several rows of chairs nearly empty in the back of the venue.
Before Warren took the stage, a few voters brought up concerns about Warren’s past claims of being Native American, which were again in the news last week after she apologized to the chief of the Cherokee Nation and after the Washington Post published her Texas bar application from the 1980s that showed her identifying as “American Indian.” Warren identified as native in the 1980s and 1990s while a law professor. A Boston Globe investigation found that her claimed background was not a factor in her hiring at Harvard or other law schools.
“My biggest thing is the Native American thing,” said Christine Lehman-Engledow. “I don’t quite understand why it’s such a big deal. But I’ve just heard people being upset about it so that worries me.”