White House press secretary Sean Spicer apologized on Tuesday, after his comment that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II. His comments were part of his efforts to insult the Russian alliance with the brutal Syrian regime and its use of chemical weapons on civilians.
The comment caused massive outrage immediately and after numerous attempts to give his words a different context, Spicer apologized in an interview on CNN.
“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas. Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
Spicer said that he knew Hitler had used gas chambers during the holocaust and clarified that he should “stayed focused” on Syria and Assad’s brutality. He also asked people to forgive him for his “mistake.”
“My goal now and then is to stay focused on Assad and I should have,” he said. “I realized that I had made a mistake and I didn’t want to be a distraction to the President’s agenda.”
Hitler and the Nazis used gas chambers to massacre millions of Jews, even though he did not use any chemical weapons on the battlefield.
“You had someone who was despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said during the briefing. “So you have to, if you are Russia, ask yourself is this a country and a regime that you want to align yourself with.”
While audible gasps could be heard in the briefing room as soon as Spicer made the comment, it also instantly spread on several social forums online.
Later in the briefing, when asked about his comments on Hitler and his use of chemical weapons, Spicer remarked: “I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”
Reporters mentioned the Holocaust as an example of Hitler’s chemical weapons use, to which Spicer replied:
“He brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. But in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns and dropped them down to innocent in the middle of towns,” he added, defending his statement. “I appreciate the clarification that was not the intent.”
After the briefing, Spicer, once again tried to clarify, “in no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable,” he said.
However, people were quick to call for Spicer’s resignation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Spicer’s dismissal.
“While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust,” she said in a statement. “Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements.”