During a recently-released interview, President Obama told Vox that the culprits of an attack in Paris were “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

Last month, a gunman identified as Amedy Coulibaly took hostages in the Jewish deli Hyper Cacher in Paris. He murdered four Jewish men – Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada – in a seven-hour standoff before being killed by police.

Today ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest about Obama’s comment, saying:

This was not a random shooting of a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris. This was an attack on a kosher deli. Does the president have any doubt that those terrorists attacked that deli because there would be Jews in that deli?

“It is clear from the terrorists and the writings that they put out afterward what their motivation was,” said Earnest. “The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

Earnest added that the victims “were not targeted by name.”

When Karl pressed Earnest to say that the victims were targeted for their faith, Earnest responded that “there were people other than just Jews who were in that deli.”

When Karl continued to press whether there was doubt the president believes the victims were targeted for their faith, Earnest replied, “I answered the question once. No.”

In a tweet later today, Earnest clarified:

In a Tuesday briefing with reporters, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to say what the motives for the attack were, and deferred to French authorities. After the press briefing, Psaki offered clarification on her statement in a tweet.

In a speech following the attack, French President Francois Hollande said through an interpreter that the attack on the kosher deli was “obviously a horrible, anti-Semitic act that was committed.”

Nile Gardiner, the director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Signal that the remarks of the president and the White House were “absolutely outrageous.”

“It’s ludicrous to believe that terrorists randomly select targets,” said Gardiner. “There is no doubt that the victims of the terrorist attack were specifically selected because of their religion.”

Gardiner said that Islamists in France seek to “drive Jews out” of the country in an effort to establish “an Islamic Caliphate in Europe.”

In a series of tweets, Yair Rosenberg, a writer at Tablet Magazine, said that the president simply “misspoke to Vox” and that the administration was turning a “minor misstatement into an actual fiasco.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, the national correspondent at The Atlantic, tweeted that the Obama administration has been clear in its condemnation of anti-Semitism “over time.”

In January, the State Department called the attack “anti-Semitic” in a statement to the Jerusalem Post.

“We condemn in the strongest terms ?yesterday’s cowardly anti-Semitic assault against the innocent people in the kosher supermarket,” Chanan Weissman, a spokesman for the State Department, told the Post.