"It is the job of Secretary Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, to talk about the military options".
Sebastian Gorka, deputy-assistant to President Donald Trump (2nd L), participates in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 24.
Gorka who spoke to BBC Radio said Tillerson was in no capacity to talk about the military as it is not his mandate.
Gorka made his initial remarks in an interview with BBC radio as he was asked about what would constitute a red line that might lead to US military action against North Korea.
That's very different from what Tillerson said. North Korea's state run news agency said that nation's government is "seriously reviewing" a plan to strike Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory. Gorka seems to be saying it's right back to where Trump suggested it was - or at least that Trump reserved the right to consider mere threats to be acts of war.
Tensions have escalated with North Korea over the last several days.
"The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people", Mattis said in the statement.
Gorka then used an anecdote involving a Holocaust survivor to suggest North Korea's threats against the USA was somehow similar to that posed against Jews by the Nazis in the Second World War.
"For reporters to force our chief diplomat, the wonderful Rex Tillerson, to give details of military options is nonsensical", Gorka said, accusing reporters of twisting his words. Whether it's the White House, the State Department, the Department of Defence, we are speaking with one voice.
Gorka's comments drew considerable media attention since, regardless of the context, it was unusual to see a top White House aide publicly saying it was "simply nonsensical" for the secretary of the State to discuss military affairs.
"Sebastian, you know this is going to be all over the papers 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 the process."