Sean Spicer apologized after saying at a press conference on Tuesday that Assad was worse than Hitler, who did not use chemical weapons in World War II. His comment drew criticism from all sides, as some called for his dismissal.
At a press conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer condemned Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who launched a nerve gas attack last week killing more than 70 Syrian civilians.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in WWII. We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said. When he was asked about the Nazi use of Zyklon B in the gas chambers of the Concentration Camps, Spicer explained his statement.
“When it comes to Sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” he said. “I understand your point. Thank you. I appreciate that. He brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. I was saying in the way that Assad used them where he went into town, dropped them into the middle of town. I appreciate the clarification. That was not the intent.”
Later in the day, Spicer appeared on a televised interview on CNN, during which he apologized for his comments.
“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 in an interview with Wolf Blitzer. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
Though his comments are being heavily criticized, the truth, and clearly the intent, behind Spicer’s comment was that despite using brutal methods including nerve gas to kill millions of civilians in death camps, the German Army did not use chemical warfare on the battlefield during Word War II. The timing of Spicer’s gaffe was especially difficult, coming on the first day of Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating the Exodus from national slavery.