Washington, Apr 12 (PTI) President Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer has apologised for his “insensitive” remarks in which he said Adolf Hitler, who gassed millions of Jews during the Holocaust, did not use chemical weapons, drawing instant rebuke from leaders and the Jewish community.
Gaffe-prone Spicer apologised on national television yesterday for comparing the Nazi leader with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, accused of using Sarin gas against his own people including children, an attack which had rattled Trump so much that he ordered missile strikes on a Syrian air base.
“I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust for which, frankly, there is no comparison,” Spicer told CNN hours after he made the remarks.
“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad made against his own people last week using chemical weapons and gas,” he said in an effort to control the damage done by his remarks, which drew strong reactions from political leaders, the Jew community and human rights bodies both at home and abroad.
Later, speaking at a forum at the Newseum, Spicer issued a fresh apology and called the incident “my mistake” and “my bad.”
“I let the president down,” Spicer said, adding that the damage was especially unfortunate because “it’s a very holy week for the Christian people and the Jewish people.” “I made a mistake. There’s no other way to say it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have. I screwed up. I hope people understand that we all make mistakes,” Spicer said in response to a question.
Spicer today hoped that people would forgive him for such remarks.
“I screwed up. I hope each person can understand that part of existing is understanding that when you do something wrong, if own up to it, you do it. You let people know, and I did,” he said.
Spicer had yesterday during his regular press briefing attempted to shame Russia and Assad by comparing the Syrian leader with Hitler. He had said: “We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” “So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself is this a country that you and a regime that you want to align yourself with?”
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi demanded Spicer be fired.
“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,” Pelosi said.
House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said Spicer’s remarks were “indicative of the extraordinary lack of knowledge, perspective, and sensitivity that the Trump administration has brought to Washington.”
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said: “It is clear that this administration needs a history lesson and a staff shake-up.” Nita M Lowey, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, said it was disturbing that Trump’s chief spokesman has “either a cavalier aversion to facts, is completely unmoored from reality, or both.”
Rep Lee Zeldin, a Jewish Republican from New York, said in a statement reported by The New York Times that “as far as comments being made and comparisons of various tactics and methods between now and World War II, you can make the comparison a little differently and it would be accurate, but it’s important to clear up that Hitler did in fact use chemical warfare to murder innocent people.” In a statement to White House reporters, Spicer said in no way he was trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. “Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”
At the forum at Newseum, Spicer again acknowledged that a gaffe and a mistake like this was “inexcusable and reprehensible”.
“It really painful to myself to know that I did something like that because that obviously was not my intention. To know when you screw up, that you possibly offended a lot of people and so, I would ask obviously for folks’ forgiveness, to understand that I should not have tried to make a comparison.
There’s no comparing atrocities,” the White House Press Secretary said.
From a professional standpoint also, it is disappointing, he said.
He asserted that President Trump had an “unbelievable” couple of weeks and conceded that his remarks had caused distraction from that accomplishment.
“On a professional level it’s disappointing because I’ve let the President down. And so, both on a personal level and a professional level that will definitely go down as not a very good day in my history,” he said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.