Spicer: 'I let the president down'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday said he let President Trump down by saying Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II. 

Spicer said his remark, which he said was meant to shame Syrian President Bashar Assad for a deadly gas attack, distracted from Trump’s decision to respond with a cruise missile strike and his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

“Your job as a spokesperson is to help amplify the president’s actions and accomplishments,” a subdued Spicer told interviewer Greta Van Susteren at a Newseum event examining the press in Trump's first 100 days in office. 


“When you’re distracting from that message of accomplishment, and your job is to be the exact opposite, on a professional level it’s disappointing because I think I’ve let the president down. On both a personal level and a professional level, that will not go down as a very good day in my history,” he added.

A day earlier, Spicer said Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II, comparing the Nazi leader to Assad when discussing a chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this month that killed scores of civilians. U.S. and Western officials have pinned the attack on Assad, who is facing armed opposition in a yearslong civil war.

While Hitler is believed not to have used chemical weapons on the battlefield, the Nazis used cyanide-based Zyklon B and other types of poison to kill Jews in gas chambers at concentration camps.

"There's no comparing atrocities," Spicer said Wednesday. "Of all weeks, this compounds that kind of mistake.”

"It's painful to myself to know I did something like that.”

Spicer also said the mistake was "really painful" because Trump has enjoyed an "unbelievable" run of good news lately, including the missile strike on a Syrian airfield and the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

"From a professional standpoint, the president had a phenomenal couple of weeks, an unbelievable successful couple of weeks."

During Tuesday’s press briefing, Spicer said: “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who did not even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Later in the briefing, given a chance to walk back his comments, Spicer continued the comparison, claiming that Hitler did not “gas his own people” and referred to concentration camps as “Holocaust centers.”

His remarks drew harsh criticism and ridicule from politicians on both sides of the aisle and Jewish interest groups. 

Spicer eventually apologized for his comments in national interviews on CNN and MSNBC on Tuesday.

Jordan Fabian contributed.