A repentant Sean Spicer admitted Wednesday he “let the president down” a day earlier when he claimed that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons — ignoring the latter’s use of gas chambers to try and exterminate the Jewish people in an attempt to draw a contrast to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“It’s painful to myself to know I did something like that,” an unusually subdued Spicer said during a live interview onstage at the Newseum with MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren.
Spicer, who said he did not have a conversation with President Donald Trump directly about the incident, admitted he “got into a topic I shouldn’t have, and I screwed up."
"I hope people understand we all make mistakes; I hope I showed I understand that,” Spicer said. He called his comments particularly “reprehensible” for falling during Passover, and he said it was especially frustrating that he disrupted a successful period for the president after “productive” talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It was Spicer’s second apology in less than 24 hours. On Tuesday night, Spicer appeared on CNN, standing on pebble beach outside the White House and telling anchor Wolf Blitzer that he "mistakenly used an inappropriate, insensitive reference to the Holocaust."
That apology came after Spicer floundered in multiple follow-up statements that attempted to explain his original comments Tuesday, in which he sought to criticize Russia’s support for Assad by comparing the Syrian regime’s chemical attack on civilians last week to Hitler’s actions during World War II. "You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons," Spicer said during the briefing, prompting quick criticism from lawmakers and on social media.