President Trump consulted with chief of staff John Kelly and other national security aides before warning North Korea of "fire and fury” if Pyongyang continues its nuclear threats, the White House said Wednesday.
“The president and chief of staff Kelly are and have been in constant contact with members of the [National Security Council] team,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters.
Walters also said national security adviser H.R. McMaster will travel to meet with the president later this week. Vice President Pence, whose visit was previously announced, is arriving Thursday.
Trump’s comments escalated a war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and raised questions about whether they had been approved by his team or were improvised by the president.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday at his New Jersey golf club, Trump used provocative language for a U.S. president, warning that Kim’s threats, “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
In the aftermath, members of the president's team have sought to calm the situation. Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE said that "Americans should sleep well at night" and not worry about an impending nuclear war.
The White House is also seeking to push back on reports that members of the White House national security team were unaware Trump would address North Korea and that his comments were made off the cuff.
Asked if staff was aware that Trump would speak about the country's nuclear developments, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied in an email, "If you are asking if there was a staff wide email that went out, the answer to that is no."
White House spokespeople did not say who the president spoke with beyond Kelly or whether they reviewed the North Korea statement.
New York Times correspondent Glenn Thrush said on Wednesday that White House sources told him Trump improvised the “fire and fury” comment.
Thrush added in a tweet that Kelly was “surprised,” but not shocked.
Kelly is with Trump during his 17-day getaway at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Deputy national security adviser Rick Waddell has also been traveling with the president, who has received intelligence briefings each of the past three days.
--This report was updated at 11:38 a.m.