On Sunday, on Meet the Press, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus defended President Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that ignored any mention of the Jewish people. Speaking with Chuck Todd, Priebus said that while he recognized that the Holocaust was about eradicating the Jews, he expressed that he did not regret the omission of them in the statement. He lightly alluded to the fact that five million non-Jews also suffered brutality against the Nazis, but when Todd kept pressing Priebus to recognize that many American Jews found Trump’s statement offensive, Priebus said that the White House did not mean any offense.
The exchange went like this:
Preibus: Well, I recognize, in fact, obviously that that was what the Holocaust was about. And it’s a horrible event. And obviously a miserable time in history that we remember here at the White House and certainly will never forget the Jewish people that suffered in World War II. And obviously still incredible wounds that remain in a time in history that was of great, incredible, horrific magnitude. And everyone’s heart here is impacted by the memory of that terrible time. And so for the record, that’s the case. And–
Todd: Do you regret–
Priebus: –certainly we don’t mean–
Todd: –does the president regret not–
Priebus: –any ill-will to anybody.
Todd: Do you regret–
Preibus: I don’t about regret. It’s just– No.
Todd: –the statement?
Priebus: There’s no–
Todd: There’s no regret not acknowledging the pain that–
Priebus: We acknowledge it. We acknowledge the–
Todd: But you didn’t–
Priebus: –horrible time of the Holocaust.
Todd: –but why white-wash–
Priebus: –and what it meant for history, and so.
Todd: –but why white-wash Jews from that statement?
Priebus: I’m not white-washing anything, Chuck. I just told–
Todd: The statement did.
Priebus: –you that it was horrible. And, well, I’m telling you now that that’s the way we feel about it. And it’s a terrible time in history. And obviously I think you know that President Trump has dear family members that are Jewish. And there was no harm or ill-will or offense intended by any of that.
Todd: But you– So you don’t– But you don’t regret the statement. You don’t regret the words that were chosen in the statement and the words–
Priebus: I don’t regret the words, Chuck.
Todd: –that were not included?
Priebus: I’m trying to clear it up for you. I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred is something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad and something that can never be forgotten and something that if we could wipe it off of the history books we could. But we can’t. And it’s terrible. I mean, I don’t know what more to tell you.
It was the first time that a sitting President omitted the Jewish people’s connection to the genocide, which murdered six million Jews. The statement received harsh criticism from many members of the Jewish community. Commentary editor John Podhoretz wrote this in response to the statement:
The Nazis killed an astonishing number of people in monstrous ways and targeted certain groups—Gypsies, the mentally challenged, and open homosexuals, among others. But the Final Solution was aimed solely at the Jews. The Holocaust was about the Jews. There is no “proud” way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful, world-historical fact. To universalize it to “all those who suffered” is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning.
Watch Priebus’ full segment below.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 29, 2017
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