White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologized Tuesday for what he said were “insensitive” remarks suggesting Adolf Hitler didn’t gas Jewish people during the Holocaust amid calls for his ouster.
“Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which, frankly, there is no comparison,” Spicer said on CNN. “For that, I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
Sean Spicer: I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, there is no comparison https://t.co/6SwTJwLWJw
— CNN (@CNN) April 11, 2017
Asked by CNN host Wolf Blitzer to whom Spicer believed he was directing the apology, referencing Holocaust survivors who were offended by the remarks, Spicer said it was for “clearly, anybody, who not just suffered in the Holocaust, or is a descendant of anybody, but frankly, anybody who was offended by those comments.”
“I’m not in any way standing by them,” Spicer added. “I was trying to draw a comparison for which there shouldn’t have been one. It was insensitive and inappropriate, so I’m not looking to quantify this in any way.”
Recalling he made the erroneous remarks during the White House news briefing when making the case for the horrific nature of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attacks in Syria, Spicer said he regrets not staying focused on the issue at hand.
“I should have stayed focused on the Assad regime and the dangers that they had brought to their own people, and the terrible atrocities that they did. To drag any other comparison into this was not appropriate,” Spicer.
Spicer made the remarks during the White House news briefing hours earlier, saying even Hitler didn’t stoop to using chemical weapons during the Holocaust. His remarks ignored the internment of Jewish people in concentration camps, where they were often murdered in gas chambers. An estimated 6 million Jewish people died during the Holocaust.
The remarks triggered criticism of the White House, which is already beleaguered by accusations of anti-Semitism. Calls for Spicer’s ouster came from Democrats like gay lawmaker Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Richard Luchette, a Cicilline spokesperson, said his boss still thinks Spicer should resign despite the apology.
The Washington Blade has placed a request seeking comment with Pelosi’s office on whether the lawmaker accepts the apology, or still believes Spicer should go.