White House deputy advisor Sebastian Gorka seemed to do some backpedaling when confronted by a Fox News host about his apparent undermining of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The White House Deputy Assistant to the President raised eyebrows Thursday when he said in a BBC radio interview that it was “simply nonsensical” for Tillerson to speak on military matters regarding North Korea. His remarks created a stir and lead State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to tell reporters that Tillerson “carries a big stick.”
Fox News host Liz Claman pressed Gorka on his remarks during a segment on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” later Thursday.
“Never said that,” Gorka laughed when Claman read back his quote. He denied making the comment, saying it was “fake news 101.” Claman pointed out that audio of the conversation was available, prompting Gorka to claim he had the audio too.
“Sebastian, you know this is going to be all over the papers,” Claman said after playing a clip of the press briefing where Nauert was asked about the comment. “And whether you had the exact meaning that people have now interpreted it as, it looks like to some people, it looks like — forget backstabbing, that you frontstabbed the secretary of state and, you know, people look at that and say who was he to admonish any process.”
“I was admonishing the journalists of the fake news industrial complex who are forcing our chief diplomat into a position where they are demanding he makes the military case for action when that is not the mandate of the secretary of state,” Gorka explained.
“That’s why we have a department of defense. If a journalist doesn’t know the difference between the secretary of state and the department of defense, they should hand in their credentials. It’s just absurd lack of understanding,” he added.
Gorka than praised Tillerson, saying he had “done an amazing job” with new sanctions against North Korea through the United Nations Security Council. But, he clarified again, “when reporters try to force him to make statements regarding military options, they have no idea what they’re talking about, and if they think that’s a story, they’re not journalists.”
The deputy advisor was the topic of discussion at MSNBC where Chuck Todd spoke to a panel about the man he called a “menace” to the rest of the West Wing staff.
“This Seb Gorka guy, or doctor, I know some people have questioned his credentials,” Todd said on “Meet The Press Daily”Thursday. “He appeared to contradict Rex Tillerson, I know the president loves how he goes after reporters and is sort of a pugilist,”
“But is the guy a legitimate national security adviser to the president?” Todd asked. “Or is he just sort of this pugilist that goes on TV every now and then.”
Politico’s Eliana Johnson described Gorka as a “Kellyanne Conway type,” a television surrogate for the president who does not offer concrete advice.
“It does sort of send weird messages,” Todd replied.
“How does this guy survive?” he added. “It just sort of strikes me that he’s nothing but a menace to the rest of his staff.”
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