White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Sunday defended a statement the administration released that paid tribute to victims of the Holocaust, after critics pointed out it omitted references to the Jewish people and anti-Semitism.
In the statement, which was sent out Friday on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Donald Trump commemorated “the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” but he never explicitly mentioned whom Nazi Germany primarily targeted, as his two most recent predecessors have.
The Anti-Defamation League called the omission “troubling” and “puzzling.”
During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Priebus acknowledged the reality of the Holocaust but maintained that he had no regrets about the president’s statement.
“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,” he said.
“I don’t regret. No,” Priebus added of the statement.
Priebus also disputed a suggestion by NBC’s Chuck Todd that the White House was “white-washing Jews” from the Holocaust.
“I think you know that President Trump has dear family members that are Jewish,” he said, referring to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. “And there was no harm or ill will or offense intended by any of that.”
Characterizing Jews as simply one of many groups to have been targeted during the Holocaust, and thus downplaying their suffering, was also a tactic employed by Soviet Russia under Josef Stalin.
Some, including HuffPost Senior Politics Editor Sam Stein, pointed out online Sunday that such an omission would likely have been received differently by Priebus, who previously chaired the Republican National Committee, had it come from Barack Obama’s White House:
This post has been updated with a tweet from Elizabeth Yuko.