White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer continued his apology tour for an inaccurate Hitler-comparison he made at the White House, telling a crowd gathered at the Newseum in Washington Wednesday that the previous day’s press briefing would probably go down as “not a very good day in my history” both personally and professionally.
“I made a mistake. There’s no other way to say it,” Spicer told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren. “I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have and I screwed up.”
Spicer said he believed his incorrect statement that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II, the flubbed clarification and subsequent apologies distracted from the “unbelievable success” he says President Donald Trump has had over the past couple of weeks including airstrikes launched against the Syrian regime and last week’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Your job as spokesperson is to help amplify the president’s actions and accomplishments,” Spicer said. “When you’re distracting from that accomplishment and your job is to do the exact opposite, on a professional level it’s disappointing because I think I’ve let the president down.”
Wednesday’s appearance had been pre-planned, but it provided yet another opportunity for Spicer to own up to his mistake. He’d already apologized on Tuesday evening news programs including CNN, Fox News, and NBC as well as speaking to the office of billionaire mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
Shortly after the comments went viral, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Spicer’s removal. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect also demanded he be fired, slamming Spicer for the comments, which were made on Passover. “Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death,” the center’s executive director Steven Goldstein said in a statement.
Spicer was pressed on Trump’s foreign policy regarding Russia and Syria during a question-and-answer part of the Newseum event on Wednesday, which focused on the president’s first 100 days in office and the administration’s relationship with the press. He was also asked about tax-reform policy and the relationship between senior White House aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, given reports that there’s an ongoing feud between the two.
Spicer said he believed a lot of the so-called palace intrigue is “overblown,” but acknowledged the differing political approaches of many of Trump’s senior staffers.
“There’s obviously going to be spirited debates,” he said. ” I think that’s a healthy way for the president to get guidance and ultimately make decisions.”