White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. NBC photo
BY ALI VITALI, NBC News
(NBC News) - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that his gaffe about Adolf Hitler's use of gas had distracted from President Donald Trump's accomplishments.
"I've let the president down," Spicer told MSNBC's Greta Van Susteren during a forum at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum.
Spicer said he has not spoken to the president about his widely condemned mistake from the podium Tuesday during the White House press briefing.
"I sought people's forgiveness because I screwed up," he said in a subdued tone while seated next to Van Susteren.
On Tuesday, the press secretary said that said Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" against his own people like Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad. He called Hitler "despicable" but wrongly alleged that the Nazi leader did not use "the gas on his own people the same way Assad used them."
He quickly sought to clarify his remarks in multiple follow-up statements before providing a full-blown on-camera apology Tuesday evening. "To draw any kind of comparison to the Holocaust was inappropriate and insensitive," he told NBC News.
The comment distracted from the president's "unbelievable" past few weeks, Spicer said Wednesday, citing the military strike in Syria and a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He called the comment "mine to own" and "mine to apologize for."
"It's a very holy week for Jewish and Christian people...to make a gaffe and a mistake like this is inexcusable and reprehensible," he said. "It's painful to myself to know I did something like that."