During a BBC radio interview on Thursday, White House adviser Sebastian Gorka criticized Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for comments he made earlier in the week assuring Americans that nuclear war with North Korea was not an imminent possibility.
Gorka characterized Tillerson’s input on military matters as “nonsensical.”
“You should listen to the president; the idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical,” Gorka said. “It is the job of Secretary Mattis, the secretary of defense, to talk about the military options, and he has done so unequivocally. He said, ‘Woe betide anyone who militarily challenges the United States,’ and that is his portfolio. That is his mandate. Secretary Tillerson is the chief diplomat of the United States, and it is his portfolio to handle those issues.”
You can listen to Gorka’s comments here:
Sebastian Gorka on BBC radio talking North Korea. Not much of substance but unusual public undermining of Tillerson https://t.co/EuicMWFbpK
— Adam Taylor (@mradamtaylor) August 10, 2017
Trump administration officials haven’t been on the same page about North Korea. During brief remarks to reporters on Tuesday, the president threatened nuclear strikes against the regime of Kim Jong-un if it issues threats against the United States, saying the military will retaliate with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” (The New York Times later reported that Trump’s comments were “improvised.”)
During a chat with reporters the next day, Tillerson seemed to try and tamp down Trump’s heated rhetoric, saying, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.” He added that he doesn’t think North Korea poses an “imminent threat.”
But that same day, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a statement that was more in line with Trump’s bellicosity. Mattis urged the regime of Kim Jong-un to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”
“While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth,” Mattis added. “The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”
According to Gorka — who has emerged as one of Trump’s key media surrogates despite an unclear portfolio of White House duties and alleged ties to a Nazi-linked group in Germany — the heated rhetoric coming from Mattis and Trump is what Americans should be paying attention to.
UPDATE: A State Department spokesperson responded to Gorka’s remarks by pointing out that Tillerson is a cabinet secretary while Gorka is not.