"I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the USA unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies".
Yet even then, Trump insisted that what North Korea does "can't be allowed", and the most reassurance he had to offer about the possibility of precipitously starting a huge war sometime soon was "we'll see what happens".
As I wrote Wednesday morning, we may be witnessing a little "Good Cop, Bad Cop" here, with the administration providing different signals to keep North Korea guessing.
Former President Jimmy Carter has released a statement online in which he criticizes the White House's lack of effort towards finding a peaceful solution to the increasing hostile North Korea. He is the secretary of state, that means you don't understand what the words secretaries of state means.
But restraint was not the word of the day on Friday as Trump sent out a cascade of unscripted statements, including what appeared to be another red line - the mere utterance of threats - that would trigger a US attack against North Korea and "big, big trouble" for Kim.
"In this rhetorical back and forth, the North Koreans will do what you expect".
"The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the US wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack", it said.More news: UN Security Council unanimously adopts new sanctions on North
On Wednesday, the North Korean defense ministry dismissed Trump's comments as "a load of nonsense", coming from a "guy bereft of reason".
Against this backdrop, Tillerson's Korea-focused trip did little to ease concerns of Washington's ASEAN allies that the area is not one of Trump's major priorities.
New United Nations sanctions condemning the North's rapidly developing nuclear program drew fresh ire and threats from Pyongyang.
North Korea responded by claiming it is preparing a plan to fire missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam in the western Pacific.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters with Vice President Mike Pence at his side August 10 at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Asked if the USA was going to war, he said cryptically, "I think you know the answer to that".
Trump-world appears to be splitting. It also said it was readying a plan to "box in" Guam with launches of four ballistic missiles; Guam is a key American military base with submarines, warships, aircraft, and thousands of troops.
Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run August 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!"