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Sean Spicer Says His Comment That Hitler Never Used Chemical Weapons Was "Inappropriate And Insensitive"

"Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive comment about the Holocaust and there is no comparison," the White House press secretary said.

Originally posted on
Updated on

At a Tuesday press briefing, Sean Spicer falsely claimed Hitler never used chemical weapons during World War II.

Earlier: Spicer claims that even someone "as despicable as Hitler" didn't use chemical weapons https://t.co/5BSu9nzn5W

"We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II. We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons," Spicer said, while speaking about Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical weapons attack last week.

He was immediately blasted for apparently forgetting about gas chambers that were used at concentration camps to kill millions of Jewish people.

Spicer says that "even Hitler" did not use chemical weapons, apparently forgetting gas chambers.

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Sean Spicer just said Hitler didn't use chemical weapons. SEAN SPICER JUST SAID HITLER DIDN'T USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

If "(Hitler Gassed Millions)" is in a fact-check chyron under your face, you aren't having a great day.

When another reporter asked him to clarify the comment, Spicer fumbled through an explanation and defense.

Sean Spicer clarifies his comments on Hitler and chemical weapons https://t.co/fx9nnPX9vI

"I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing," Spicer said.

"But in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns and dropped them down to innocent into the middle of towns... I appreciate the clarification, that was not the intent," he said.

Then, after the briefing, he released a statement saying he was not "trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust."

Spicer statement: “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust, however...”

Then he sent out a clarification to that clarification, changing "innocent people" to "population centers."

WH just sent out an updated clarification from Spicer, changing “innocent people” to “population centers” at the en… https://t.co/llYKd6zC0N

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He then clarified the clarification to the clarification, saying "any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable."

.@PressSec seeks to clarify Hitler comments again: "Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable."

Regardless, the comment received widespread condemnation, particularly because it occurred during Passover.

Sean Spicer just said Assad is worse than Hitler because Hitler "didn't use chemical weapons." Also, Happy Passover from the White House.

OMFG. Spicer literally just said "even Hitler didn't sink to the level of using chemical weapons." ...Happy Passover?

Shortly after the press briefing, Chelsea Clinton tweeted that she hopes Spicer will visit the Holocaust Museum following his comments.

I hope @PressSec takes time to visit @HolocaustMuseum. It's a few blocks away. https://t.co/24fNoMUyS8

And in a well-timed tweet, the Holocaust Museum shared a video of what US armed forces saw during the liberation of a German concentration camp.

WATCH: Footage from our collection shows what US forces discovered when they liberated #Buchenwald.

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"I find nothing funny about the Press Secretary bungling holocaust history," Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz tweeted. "Because I'm not sure they should get the benefit of the doubt."

I find nothing funny about the Press Secretary bungling holocaust history. Because I'm not sure they should get the benefit of the doubt.

Following Spicer's comments, a myriad of people and institutions called for the press secretary's removal.

.@POTUS @realDonaldTrump MUST FIRE SEAN SPICER NOW FOR ENGAGING IN HOLOCAUST DENIAL. OUR STATEMENT BELOW.… https://t.co/M3EoHC9x7w

"On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death," Anne Frank Center executive director Steven Goldstein said in a statement.

"Spicer's statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary."

Barbra Streisand also called for Spicer to be fired.

Sean Spicer should be fired for saying Hitler did not use chemical weapons on "his own people.” You mean 6 million Jews don’t count?

As did Nancy Pelosi.

.@realDonaldTrump, it’s time to fire @PressSec Sean Spicer. https://t.co/35sTqfkp1d

"While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust," Pelosi said 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 calls for Spicer's removal even came from the right.

Spicer doesn't realize how hard the media is working to force errors. Nice guy but not the right fit. Hire Hope Hicks!

Who should be @realDonaldTrump's next Press Secretary?

Pro-Trump alt-right blogger Mike Cernovich claimed "the media is working to force errors" in Spicer.

"Nice guy but not the right fit," he said, along with a suggestion for a replacement.

And Alex Jones couldn't believe it when he heard what Spicer had said, even asking whether he was being sarcastic.

WATCH: Alex Jones re Spicer "What the hell is that from Sean Spicer? Was he being sarcastic? It shows how historica… https://t.co/KeAsUk23bt

Spicer later apologized in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Sean Spicer apologizes for comments on Assad gas attacks and Holocaust.

"Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive comment about the Holocaust and there is no comparison," Spicer said. "For that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that."

Spicer added that he wanted to apologize so his comments would not distract from President Trump's decision to take military action against the Assad regime.

"I came out to make sure we stay focused on what the president is doing and his decisive action," Spicer said. "I needed to make sure that I clarified, and not in any way shape or form or any more of an distraction from the president's decisive action in Syria and attempts he is making to destabilize the region and root out ISIS out of Syria. My goal now and then was to stay focused on Assad, and I should have, and I will continue to make sure that I stay in my lane when I talk about that."

Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Julia Reinstein at julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.

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