White House press secretary Sean Spicer apologized again Wednesday morning for comparing chemical weapon attacks in Syria to the Holocaust the day before, saying the mistake was “mine to own, mine to apologize for and mine to ask forgiveness for.”
“I made a mistake,” Spicer said in an interview with MSNBC host Great Van Susteren. “There’s no other way to say it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have and I screwed up. I mean, you know, I hope people understand that we all make mistakes. I hope I showed that I understand that I did that and that I saw people’s forgiveness because I screwed up. You know, I hope each person can understand that part of existing is understanding that when you do something wrong, if you own up to it, you do it. You let people know, and I did.”
In a previously scheduled conversation at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Van Susteren opened by bringing up Spicer’s comparison of Syria to Nazi Germany and allowing Spicer to respond at length. The apology is a departure from the normal stance of Trump’s White House, which has doubled down or attempted to quickly move on from controversial or false statements in the past.
During Tuesday’s press briefing, Spicer had asserted that “even Hitler” hadn’t used chemical weapons on his own people. When asked to clarify his remarks, Spicer referred to “Holocaust centers” instead of concentration camps — where over 3 million people were killed — and attempted to draw a nuanced comparison between Syrian chemical weapon attacks and Nazi genocide. The comments led to outrage online and for many Democrats to call for Spicer’s removal, including House Leader Nancy Pelosi calling for him to be fired.
Spicer had appeared on CNN in an interview with Wolf Blitzer to apologize Tuesday afternoon.
“I mean obviously there’s two takeaways,” Spicer said Wednesday. “One is it’s a very holy week for both the Jewish people and the Christian people, and this is not — to make a gaffe and a mistake like this is inexcusable and reprehensible. And so of all weeks … this compounds that kind of mistake.”
He continued: “It really is painful to myself to know that I did something like that, because that obviously was not my intention. And to know when you screw up that you possibly offended a lot of people, I just — you know, and so I would ask for folks’ forgiveness to understand that I should not have tried to make a comparison. There’s no comparing atrocities. And it is a very solemn time for so many folks, that this is part of that. So that’s obviously a very difficult thing personally to deal with because you know that a lot of people who don’t know you wonder why you would do that.”
Spicer added that he was disappointed professionally to distract from what he had considered a successful couple of weeks for the White House and that Trump had not personally spoken to him about the comments. When asked if he had received word from Trump via anyone else in the White House, Spicer said he wasn’t going to get into private conversations.
“Again, this was my mistake, my bad that I needed to fix,” said Spicer, “and so I’m not going to get into any additional conversations that I may or may not have had. Will just say this was mine. Mine to own, mine to apologize for and mine to ask for forgiveness for.”
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