The White House Press Secretary was discussing the recent chemical attack in Syria
The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been widely criticised this evening for claiming Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during the Nazi regime.
Comparing the Nazi leader with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Spicer told journalists during his regular press briefing at the White House: “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.”
Asked to clarify the remarks, he added: “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.”
A reporter in the room shouted that Jews had been targeted. Stuttering and gesticulating, Spicer continued: “Thank you, I appreciate that. There was not in the – he brought them into the Holocaust centres – I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down into the middle of towns.
“So, the use of it, I appreciate the clarification. That was not the intent.”
Adolf Hitler gassed millions of Jews during the Holocaust along with large numbers of Gypsies, gay people, political dissidents and others.
Spicer later tried to clarify his comments. “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust,” he said in an emailed statement. “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.”
However, he was quickly condemned on social media for his words, with Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, calling for his dismissal.
"Sean Spicer must be fired,” — Nancy Pelosi on the White House’s Holocaust comments. pic.twitter.com/Ql5O2TKnb5— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) April 11, 2017
United Airlines execs after Sean Spicer's comments about Hitler and "Holocaust centers."✈️ pic.twitter.com/kKf8HqgwLg— Mike Mcdonald (@MikeMcdonaldII) April 11, 2017
Anne Frank Center: “Sean Spicer now lacks the integrity to serve as White House press secretary, and President Trump must fire him at once.” pic.twitter.com/HBRFutsZzW— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 11, 2017
The misstep follows a previous controversy in January, when the White House issued a statement to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention Jews, Judaism or antisemitism.
A chemical weapons attack earlier this month in northern Syria left nearly 90 people dead, and the US has blamed Assad.
Turkey’s health minister said on Tuesday that test results confirmed sarin gas was used.