The White House press secretary initially claimed Hitler didn't use chemical weapons

By Christian Holub
April 11, 2017 at 03:43 PM EDT
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Sean Spicer’s White House press briefing took a real turn Tuesday. The press secretary began the briefing by nodding to a recent Daily Show sketch that mashed up one of Spicer’s briefings with a kindergarten classroom, but after that, things got serious. When one journalist asked about President Donald Trump’s recent bombing of a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical attack perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Spicer responded that “we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.”

Since Adolf Hitler did use chemical weapons to kill millions of people in the Holocaust, Spicer was offered a chance to clarify his comments. His follow-up may have just made things worse, however, as he added that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.” Spicer then referred to the Nazi death camps as “Holocaust centers,” and repeatedly misstated the Syrian president’s name as “Ashad.”

Social media exploded in the wake of Spicer’s comments, and the Anne Frank Center issued a statement calling for President Trump to fire Spicer “at once.” As many pointed out, Spicer’s Holocaust comments happened to land on the second day of Passover, the annual Jewish holiday commemorating an exodus from slavery and suffering in Egypt.

“Sean Spicer should be fired for saying Hitler did not use chemical weapons on ‘his own people,'” Barbra Streisand wrote. “You mean 6 million Jews don’t count?”

“I hope @PressSec takes time to visit @HolocaustMuseum. It’s a few blocks away,” noted Chelsea Clinton.

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