For the third time in one day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is attempting walk back his statement that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II.
Appearing on Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” on CNN Tuesday, Spicer offered up an apology for the comment, following an afternoon of backlash.
“I was trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week using chemical weapons and gas,” he told Blitzer. “And frankly, I used an inappropriate, insensitive reference to the Holocaust for which, frankly, there is no comparison. And for that, I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
Spicer made the original comment while trying to shame Russia for its alliance with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. “We didn’t use chemical weapons in WWII,” he said at the time. “We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
He first attempted to backpedal when asked to clarify at a Tuesday press briefing, where he said, “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.” He later issued an official statement, saying that he was not “trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust.”
When Blitzer asked Spicer who specifically he was apologizing to, Spicer said “anyone who was offended by those comments.” “As I said, I’m not in any way standing by them,” he added. “I was trying to draw a comparison for which there shouldn’t have been one.”
As noting by many, while Hitler did not use chemical weapons on the battlefield, he did indeed use gas chambers to kill innocent civilians during the Holocaust. After Spicer made the comments, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called for his termination, saying he was engaging in Holocaust denial.
“Spicer’s statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary,” Steven Goldstein, the center’s executive director, said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), too, called for President Donald Trump to fire Spicer. “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 on Tuesday. “Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements. Either he is speaking for the president, or the president should have known better than to hire him.”