Some are calling on the White House to fire press secretary Sean Spicer after he said at an April 11 press conference that, unlike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.
"On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginably, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death," Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, said in a statement, according to a tweet from the Anne Frank Center. "Spicer's statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary. Sean Spicer now lacks the integrity to serve as White House press secretary, and president Trump must fire him at once."
The comment came during Spicer's daily press briefing, in which he explained why President Donald Trump and his administration decided to fire missiles at Syria after more than 70 civilians died and hundreds more were injured from a gas attack. The White House has placed responsibility for the attack on the Syrian president.
"We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II," Spicer said during the briefing. "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 want to align yourself with? You have previously signed onto international agreements, rightfully acknowledging that the use of chemical weapons should be out of bounds by every country."
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Spicer's comments drew outrage from many prominent Democrats.
"[Hitler] brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that," Spicer later added during the press conference when asked to clarify his comment. "What I am saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought -- so the use of it. And I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent."
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Spicer apologized on television for "mistakenly [making] an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust" and issued a statement to further clarify his words.
"In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust," he explained in his 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."