White House

Sean Spicer causes uproar with Hitler gaffe

Ali Vitali
Key Points
  • White House spokesman Sean Spicer compared Syria's president to Adolf Hitler during his Tuesday press briefing.
  • He later clarified that he was not "trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust."
  • The press secretary's comments come during the Jewish holiday of Passover.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer compares Assad to Hitler

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer came under fire Tuesday after saying that Adolf Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" against his own people like Syrian strong man Bashar al-Assad

Spicer, speaking from the White House podium at the daily press briefing, said that Hitler, whom he called "despicable," did not use "the gas on his own people the same way Assad used them."

He later sought to clarify his remarks in three separate statements before apologizing.

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"I mistakenly used an inappropriate, insensitive reference to the Holocaust for which there is no comparison," he told CNN. "It was a mistake. I shouldn't have done it."

But that was well after the outrage on social media was already in motion, with reporters and public figures blasting Spicer's comments — and saying they were particularly offensive coming during the Jewish holiday of Passover.

@ChelseaClinton: I hope @PressSec takes time to visit @HolocaustMuseum. It's a few blocks away.

@EliStokols: Yeah. Jews weren't really Germans and Hitler's gassings weren't "dropped down" like Assad's serin attacks. Got it.

@GlennKesslerWP: Having visited Auschwitz last summer, and seen the remains of the gas chambers, I find this an astonishing comment.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called on President Donald Trump to can Spicer.

"Sean Spicer now lacks the integrity to serve as White House press secretary, and President Trump must fire him at once," Steven Goldstein, the organization's executive director, said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed those sentiments.

"While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust," she wrote in a statement. "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."

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum used Spicer's gaffe as a moment to remind of the horrors of the Holocaust.

At the briefing, Spicer pointed out that Assad dropped chemical weapons in the "middle of towns."

U.S. officials said the Assad regime used Sarin in strikes on the Syrian people in a deadly attack last week that prompted U.S. military strikes in retaliation.

Nazis murdered Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust by the millions with the use of chemical gas agents like Zyklon B.

Spicer acknowledged that Hitler did bring gas "into the Holocaust centers...I understand that."

He later sought to clarify his remarks in multiple statements and said he was not trying to diminish the Holocaust.

"In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust," Spicer said in his third attempt at clarification. "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."