“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,” Spicer, 45, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday evening. “And frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate, insensitive reference to the Holocaust. I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
The White House press secretary made the controversial comments during his Tuesday press briefing, where he condemned the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack last week that killed more than 80 civilians. The remarks come amid the Jewish holiday of Passover.
“We didn’t even use chemical weapons in World War II,” Spicer said. “You had a — you know someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
Asked later to clarify his comments on Hitler, Spicer backpedaled and told ABC News’ Cecila Vega, “I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”
“He brought them into the Holocaust Center,” added Spicer, in an apparent reference to Nazi concentration camps.
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Then in a second clarification shared by NBC News White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, Spicer said, “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. However, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.”