Jewish GOP lawmaker weighs in on Spicer's Hitler comments

 Jewish GOP lawmaker weighs in on Spicer's Hitler comments
© Greg Nash

One of the two Jewish Republicans in Congress pushed back on Tuesday against White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s botched comparison of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

During the White House press briefing earlier Tuesday, Spicer inaccurately said that Hitler’s regime did not use chemical weapons during World War II. The Nazis used gas chambers to kill millions of Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said in a statement that “it’s important” to clarify that Hitler did, in fact, use chemical weapons.

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"Hitler used chemical weapons to kill millions of innocent people. As far as comments being made and comparisons of various tactics and methods between now and World War II, you can make the comparison a little differently and it would be accurate, but it's important to clear up that Hitler did in fact use chemical warfare to murder innocent people,” Zeldin said.

Spicer was trying to compare Hitler to Assad, who is accused of using sarin gas against civilians in his country’s civil war. Trump authorized a military strike last week on a Syrian government air base in response to a chemical weapons attack.

"We did not use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who did not even sink to using chemical weapons," Spicer said.

When asked to clarify those comments, Spicer misspoke again by saying Hitler did not use gas against his country’s people.

“When it comes to sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said.

Spicer tried to clarify his comments for a second time after the briefing ended.

"In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust,” Spicer said in a statement. “I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable."

Spicer’s comments drew outrage from the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect and Democratic lawmakers, who called for him to be fired.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the first member of Congress to say Spicer should lose his job over the comments, accused him of “downplaying the horror of the Holocaust” during Passover.

GOP lawmakers apart from Zeldin have otherwise not weighed in on the controversy. 

The only other Jewish Republican in Congress, Rep. David Kustoff (Tenn.), didn’t immediately return a request for comment.