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Spicer: Trump 'went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday defended President Trump amid backlash over a statement the White House released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that didn't reference Jews or anti-Semitism.

"The president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust and the suffering that went through it and the people that were affected by it and the loss of life," Spicer told reporters Monday.

"And to make sure that America never forgets what so many people went through, whether they were Jews or gypsies, gays, disability."

The White House faced criticism after releasing the statement without referencing the Holocaust's Jewish victims. On Monday, Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsFormer OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (Maine) tweeted that omitting a reference to Jews from the statement was "an historical mistake."  

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But Spicer said that Trump has shown "tremendous" respect to both Israel and the Jewish people.

"The idea that you are nitpicking this statement that sought to remember this tragic event that occurred and the people who died in it is just ridiculous," he said.

He also said the Holocaust statement was written "with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendant of Holocaust survivors."

That description would match Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a White House senior adviser. But Spicer refused to say he meant Kushner.

"I'm not getting into who wrote it," he said. "But he has several members of the Jewish faith on his senior staff."

The White House also defended the statement over the weekend, with spokeswoman Hope Hicks telling CNN that "despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered."

In an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said he didn't regret the wording of the statement.