White House press secretary Sean Spicer prepares to go on cable news on the North Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Washington. Spicer is apologizing for making an "insensitive" reference to the Holocaust in earlier comments about Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer prepares to go on cable news on the North Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Washington. Spicer is apologizing for making an "insensitive" reference to the Holocaust in earlier comments about Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Spicer apologizes for Holocaust comment

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By Ken Thomas, Associated Press and Jill Colvin, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologized Tuesday for making an “inappropriate and insensitive” comparison to the Holocaust in earlier comments about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons — remarks that drew instant rebuke from Jewish groups and critics.

Spicer said in an interview with CNN that he was trying to make a point about Assad’s use of chemical weapons and gas against his people but “mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison. And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”

During the daily White House briefing, Spicer told reporters that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Critics noted the remark ignored Hitler’s use of gas chambers to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.

It was the second day in a row in which Spicer, President Donald Trump’s main spokesman, appeared to struggle to articulate the president’s foreign policy at a critical time. The White House generated criticism at the start of the year when a statement on international Holocaust Remembrance Day did not make any reference to Jews.

In the CNN interview, Spicer said his comments did not reflect Trump’s views. “My comments today did not reflect the president’s, were a distraction from him and frankly were misstated, insensitive and wrong.” He added, “Obviously it was my blunder.”