House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called on President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE to fire press secretary Sean Spicer for claiming that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler didn't use chemical weapons during World War II.
Spicer stumbled during a White House press briefing Tuesday while trying to compare Hitler to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is accused of using chemical weapons against his own citizens in the country's civil war.
Pelosi said Spicer's bungling of Holocaust history was even worse because it came during the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover.
“While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust," Pelosi said in a statement.
“Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements. Either he is speaking for the president, or the president should have known better than to hire him.”
Spicer's original remarks omitted the fact that Nazi concentration camps used gas chambers to kill millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
"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. "If you are Russia, ask yourself, is this a country and regime that you want to align yourself with?"
Asked to clarify his comments, Spicer misspoke again by saying Hitler did not use gas on "his own people" like Assad allegedly has, to audible groans in the briefing room.
“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 again in a statement after the briefing.
"In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. 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," the statement said.
Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who is Jewish, and Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) also called for Spicer to resign on Tuesday.
"It’s time for some real accountability in this White House. And it should start with Sean Spicer’s resignation," Cicilline said in a statement.
Cicilline said two other top White House officials — chief strategist Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News; and deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka, who was reportedly linked to a Hungarian nationalist organization — should also step down.
"Donald Trump’s White House does not get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to anti-Semitism. Steve Bannon made his name running a website that trafficked in anti-Semitism and racism. Seb Gorka has a history of working with anti-Semitic groups and individuals. And today, Sean Spicer made despicable, ignorant remarks about the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler. Enough is enough," Cicilline said.
"The only clarification from Sean Spicer we want to see: I'm obviously incompetent and will resign as @PressSec," Payne tweeted.
"Sean Spicer speaks on behalf of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and he spews garbage like this from the White House podium."
.@joshearnest Sean Spicer speaks on behalf of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and he spews garbage like this from the White House podium.— Donald Payne Jr. (@RepDonaldPayne) April 11, 2017
- Updated at 4:59 p.m.