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Reince Priebus defends Trump's decision to omit Jews from Holocaust Remembrance statement

President Trump's inner circle includes several Jewish advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and policy chief Stephen Miller, and that's one reason it surprised several observers that his official statement to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday did not mention the Jews killed in the Holocaust. That omission wasn't a mistake, Trump spokesman Hope Hicks told CNN on Saturday, noting that millions of other non-Jews, including priests and resistance fighters, were slaughtered by the Nazis, too. "Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered," she said. The Obama and Bush administrations specifically mentioned the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus took another whack at explaining that all lives snuffed out in the Holocaust matter on Sunday's Meet the Press. Chuck Todd asked Priebus if he understands "why many Jews were offended by the White House's decision not to note that the Holocaust was about eradicating the Jews." Priebus answered, "Well, I recognize, in fact, obviously that that was what the Holocaust was about," adding: "And it's a horrible event."

Todd asked why the White House "whitewashed" Jews from the White House statement, and Priebus objected. "I'm not whitewashing anything, Chuck," he said. "I just told 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." Priebus clarified he doesn't "regret the words," adding: "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."

Anti-Defamation League Director Jonathan Greenblatt, who called the omission of Jews "puzzling and troubling," explained to CNN that the United Nations created International Holocaust Remembrance Day in part to counter Holocaust denialists but also nations like Iran and Russia that refuse to acknowledge that Adolf Hitler was trying to exterminate Jews. These countries, especially their nationalist movements, instead "talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what is was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people," Greenblatt said.

The Republican Jewish Coalition wasn't pleased with Trump's omission, either. But at least the neo-Nazis were happy.