Priebus made the comments on Sunday, while defending the president’s invitation of his Filipino controversial counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte.
Trump invited Duterte (pictured below) to the White House in a phone call on Saturday, according to a readout of the conversation.
As Duterte’s controversial war on drugs has led to thousands of deaths, the invitation outraged human rights activists, who argue that the measure makes Trump complicit in his Duterte’s killings.
According to John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, "By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings.”
‘Rights high on Trump’s list’
Priebus, therefore, appeared on ABC to defend the invitation by asserting that, for Trump, the issue of human rights "stands very high at the top of the list."
He cited escalation of tensions between Washington and Pyongyang as a justification for the invitation.
"It doesn't mean that human rights don't matter," Priebus said. "But what it does mean is that the issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure we have our ducks in a row."
In an effort to reference action by the president in regard to defending human rights, the White House chief of staff touched upon his recent raid against a Syrian airbase, which Washington alleged, was used by the government for a chemical attack against civilians, stating that the rash move demonstrated "his willingness to stand up for human rights."
Damascus and its allies immediately rejected the allegations after the US Navy missile strike on April 6.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been engaged in "a different level of problem" with North Korea, as Priebus put it.
"The issue on the table is North Korea and there is nothing right now facing this country and facing the region that is a bigger threat than what's happening in North Korea," he said. "Now if we don't have all of our folks together, whether they're good folks, bad folks, people that we wish would do better in their country, doesn’t matter… We have got to be on the same page."
Trump’s invitation of the notorious Filipino president was reportedly not coordinated with the US State Department.