White House press secretary Sean Spicer scrambled to correct himself during the daily press briefing after arguing that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was worse than Hitler.
“Hitler didn’t even sink to the level of using chemical weapons,” Spicer said, trying to express moral outrage for Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people. Reporters reacted instantly to Spicer’s remarks on Twitter, pointing out that Hitler gassed millions of Jews during his dictatorship.
As Spicer continued his briefing, ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega asked him to clarify his statement.
“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 replied, adding that he appreciated the opportunity to clarify his statement.
As White House reporters murmured, Spicer reacted, stumbling as he referred to Hitler’s concentration camps as “the Holocaust Center.”
“He brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that,” Spicer said. “I appreciate the clarification.”
Later, Spicer further clarified his remarks in a statement to reporters.
“In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. However, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people,” he said.
The White House later sent an additional and expanded statement to the press to further clarify Spicer’s previous statements:
“In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers,” he said. “Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”