White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stepped in it Tuesday, when he apparently overlooked the gassing of millions of Jews during the Holocaust to make a point about the Assad regime’s horror — on Passover, no less. Spicer meeting the wrong end of Godwin’s law could hardly come at a worse time for the White House—compounding the sense that the Administration lacks discipline after a wild first 100 days. Besides violating one of the cardinal rules of politics — Holocaust comparisons are always more risk than they’re worth — the gaffe distracted the White House from the good press it was earning for its decision to retaliate against the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It served to further underscore lingering questions about the White House’s commitment to combatting anti-Semitism, at a time when it is on the rise. And particularly as the generation of survivors is growing shrinking, there is little tolerance for even inadvertent comments that diminish the Holocaust. There’s little doubt it was a mistake, but it was a costly one both for Spicer and the Trump White House.
Republican Ron Estes won a special election to fill a vacant House seat from Kansas in an unexpectedly close contest that required last-minute efforts by the National Republican Congressional Committee, Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump himself to bring him over the finish line. It was a wake-up call to the GOP in the Trump era, which finds itself on defense in several special elections after a rocky start to the Administration, and points to the challenges ahead in maintaining their party’s majorities next fall—even with its structural advantages in a midterm year.
Trump says he won’t be sending troops to Syria—even though there are more than 1,000 U.S. troops already on the ground. Sessions talks tough on the border. And what to ask your member of Congress at a town hall.
Here are your must reads:
Here Are 5 Questions to Ask Your Lawmaker at a Town Hall
TIME’s Sam Frizell lays out the key issues for this recess
Classified Docs Contradict Nunes Surveillance Claims, GOP and Dem Sources Say
Unmasking claims in doubt [CNN]
The Latest Test for the White House? Pulling Off Its Easter Egg Roll
Logistical hurdle seen as organizationally-challenged White House prepares for primetime [New York Times]
Republicans Survive Election Scare and Narrowly Win Kansas Seat
Last-minute help pays off [Associated Press]
Social Conservatives Make Last-Minute Push to Defund Planned Parenthood
Could provoke shutdown, TIME’s Elizabeth Dias writes
Trump: ‘We’re Not Going Into Syria’
Despite U.S. troops already on the ground [New York Post]
Sean Spicer Apologizes for Saying Assad’s Chemical-Weapons Atrocities Were Worse Than Hitler’s
White House spokesman, overlooking the gas chambers, said Hitler ‘didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons’ [Wall Street Journal]
Russia Accuses US of Unlawful Syria Raid as Tillerson Visits
Chilly reception for Tillerson [Associated Press]
“You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Tuesday
“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week using chemical weapons and gas, and frankly I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust for which frankly there is no comparison.” — Spicer apologizing on CNN Tuesday evening
Bits and Bites
Trump won’t definitively say he still backs Bannon [New York Post]
Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout [Associated Press]
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