Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s deputy assistant, and his chief adviser on counter-terrorism, has worrying ties to the Vitézi Rend — a far-right Hungarian group who were close allies of the Nazis in World War II. Born in Britain to Hungarian parents, he became a naturalized American citizen in 2012 after marrying Katherine Cornell. Here are the events of the last six weeks — his public appearances and the emerging story of his affiliation to the Hungarian far right.
January 19 : Inauguration
Sebastian Gorka, a little-known academic, celebrated the Trump inauguration with his wife, heiress Katherine Cornell. He was wearing a distinctive outfit and a medal that was later revealed to be from the Vitézi Rend, a far-right Hungarian group.
January 29 : Holocaust-Remembrance Sensitivity Is ‘Asinine’
After President Trump’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day unaccountably avoids mentioning Jewish victimhood in the Shoah and is condemned by Jewish groups across the spectrum, Gorka is sent out to defend the statement. He calls criticism “asinine.”
January 30 : Appointment
Gorka is announced as Deputy Assistant to the president and chief adviser on counter-terrorism.
February 7 : Your Attacks Are ‘Fake News’
Again sent out to talk to the press, former Breitbart editor Gorka told syndicated conservative talk-show host Michael Medved that the administration would continue to call media who attack the president, “fake news.”
February 12 : Nazi-Ally Medal
Eli Clifton reports at Lobelog that Gorka’s outfit at the inauguration included a medal from the Vitézi Rend, a far-right Hungarian group allied to the Nazis during World War II, whose members are presumed banned from America.
February 14 : No Comment, Video At Breitbart, No Comment
After refusing to comment on the questions raised by Lobelog, Gorka makes a video for Breitbart to talk about the medal which he explains was his father’s. Lobelog asks him to explain why he would choose this offensive way to honor his father. No comment.
February 24 : Close Ties To Hungarian Far Right
Lily Bayer, writing in the Forward, reveals that while Gorka was in Hungary from 2002-2007, he was closely and repeatedly linked with far-right groups. He again avoids questions about his affiliations by talking about his parents’ traumatic experiences at the end of the war.
March 16 : A Lifelong Member Of Nazi-Allied Group?
Lily Bayer interviews three top members of the Vitézi Rend who say that Gorka swore an oath to be a lifetime member. They refer to him as vitezi to signify he is a member. Gorka, after repeated request for direct or indirect comment, releases a terse statement from the White House which addresses none of the questions of his affiliation with the group.
March 17 : Gorka’s False Statement
Andrew Kaczynski at CNN noted that a Gorka statement to Breitbart News Daily Radio about Trump’s Muslim policy was false. Gorka said, “There is not one instance on the campaign trail or after the President took office in which the travel suspension was mentioned without reference to national security — it was never mentioned, ‘we’re doing this because of a certain religious group.’” But six months after Trump declared his candidacy, his campaign’s December 7, 2015, press release states clearly
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.
March 18 : Gorka’s Scholarship In Question
The Chicago Tribune republished a critical review of Gorka’s scholarship by Dan Nexon, an associate professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. In the article originally published by Foreign Policy, Nexon notes that a scholar of Islam should be able to read Arabic (Gorka can’t), that Gorka uses out-of-date statistics and uses them wrongly, and that Gorka has published little but a dissertation that is no support for his chosen position.
March 31 : The Rise Of Alternative Facts
On Lobelog, Eva S. Balogh, a Yale historian who fled Hungary in 1956, charts the known facts and the attempts to spin, distort or falsify them. Gorka’s father, Paul, for example, cited as his son’s hero in the anti-fascist resistance was only 14 in 1944.
March 31 : Hungary And The Holocaust
While Gorka was teaching American students at Budapest’s Pázmány Péter Catholic University in 2001 and 2002, his students say, his “modern Hungarian history course omitted discussion of the Holocaust.” Eight of his students from that time wrote a signed letter saying that his values are not their values.
April 3 : Gorka’s Immigration Status
In an August 2007 interview with Hungarian television, the future White House senior aide explicitly affirms his party’s and his own support for the black-vested Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) — a group later condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for attempting to promote an “essentially racist” legal order.