Elizabeth Warren has played hard to get on the issue of her supposed Cherokee ancestry.
Warren only admits to information after someone has the documents to prove her story wrong, and then her story changes. She originally denied having any idea why Harvard touted her as Native American, and denied using that supposed status professionally.
Yet drip by drip, documents have been uncovered, and Warren drip by drip admits a little more while doing everything to avoid answering questions.
We now know that starting in 1986 Warren filled out forms for a faculty law directory as “Native American” putting her on a relatively short list of “Minority Law Teachers.” Her explanation of why she did it, to meet others like her, didn’t hold up.
We now know (because Warren finally admitted it last night after The Boston Globe found more documents) that Warren told her prior employer, U. Penn. Law, that she was Native American and that Penn reported it that way for federal filings.
We now know that in its Spring 1993 issue (which would have been prepared substantially before that), during Warren’s 1992-1993 “visiting” year at Harvard, the Harvard Women’s Law Journal listed Warren on a relatively short list of Women of Color in Legal Academia.
We now know (again last night after The Globe found documents) that Warren was listed for the 1992-1993 academic year as Native American in Harvard Law federal filings.
We now know that all these federal filings were false. There is no evidence that Elizabeth Warren is Native American, and substantial evidence she is not.
Making a false federal filing potentially was a crime. 18 U.S. Code § 1001 as it existed prior to 1996 revisions provided:
“Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact, or makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations, or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
The statute since 1996 has provided:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully–
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.
Analysis of the statute as it existed in 1994 is here.
I’m not prepared to say Warren or Harvard violated the law. Not enough is known. But the federal criminal statute points to the importance of accuracy in federal filings.
In a criminal prosecution, the prosecution would have the burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Senate campaign is not a criminal prosecution. With all we now know, the burden is on Warren and Harvard to come clean, and to demonstrate that they did not make, or participate in the making of, false federal filings.
Warren knows what happened, and so does Harvard. It’s time for them to stop playing hard to get.
Update: Michael Patrick Leahy has a good round-up of all the mainstream media outlets finally picking up on Warren’s stunning admission to The Boston Glove.
And, Indian Country Today Media has a new story, Elizabeth Warren Avoids American Indian Media.