At least 18 Democratic House members have signed a letter to President Trump demanding that he fire Sebastian Gorka, his top counter-terrorism aide, due to Gorka’s affiliations or work with anti-Semitic organizations and individuals.
The letter, which is currently being circulated by Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both of New York, calls on Trump to “immediately dismiss” his deputy assistant “based on recent revelations about Mr. Gorka’s public support for and membership in several anti-Semitic and racist groups in Hungary.”
News of the letter, which first appeared in Politico today, follows a March 17 letter to the Justice Department by three senators calling for an investigation of Gorka. Both letters cite revelations first published in the Forward about Gorka’s political activities in Hungary before he immigrated to America in 2008.
The newer House letter cites Gorka’s co-founding of a political party in Hungary in 2007 with two prominent former members of the extremist Jobbik party, noting Jobbik’s record as a “blatantly racist and anti-Semitic” faction. The letter also cites Gorka’s support, captured on a 2007 video obtained and published by the Forward, for the establishment of the Hungarian Guard, a far-right paramilitary militia led by well-known anti-Semites. The Guard was ultimately disbanded by Hungarian authorities with court approval after it was found to be threatening the human rights of minorities.
The letter also notes Gorka’s writings for a notorious far-right Hungarian publication, Magyar Demokrata, cited by the State Department for its regular publication of anti-Semitic articles and articles that deny the Holocaust.
Finally, the letter notes “extremely concerning reports” about Gorka’s affiliation with a far-right group known as the Vitézi Rend. The honorary order’s activities during World War II have led the State Department to blacklist it for having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany during World War II.” Its members are “presumed to be inadmissible” to the United States, according to the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual. Leaders of one of the group’s modern-day incarnations, the Historical Vitézi Rend, have told the Forward that Gorka took a lifelong oath of loyalty to its order.
Gorka has declined to respond to questions from the Forward about whether he disclosed his reported affiliation with the Vitézi Rend, as was required when he applied for his visa to the United States and, later, for naturalization as a U.S. citizen. In their earlier letter, senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Ben Cardin of Maryland, called on the Justice Department to investigate whether Gorka “falsified his naturalization application or otherwise illegally procured his citizenship.”
Gorky himself is not known to have made any anti-Semitic statements or engaged in anti-Semitic activities. But, condemning his “deeply troubling” associations, the House members call on Trump to “fire him immediately, and to make clear that you condemn all forms of anti-Semitism and intolerance within our country and abroad.”
Gorka is scheduled to address an annual conference in New York on Israel sponsored by The Jerusalem Post on May 7.
Larry Cohler-Esses is the Forward’s senior investigative writer. He joined the staff in December 2008. Previously, he served as Editor-at-Large for the Jewish Week, an investigative reporter for the New York Daily News, and as a staff writer for the Jewish Week as well as the Washington Jewish Week. Larry has written extensively on the Arab-Jewish relations both in the United States and the Middle East. His articles have won awards from the Society for Professional Journalists, the Religious Newswriters Association, the New York Press Association and the Rockower Awards for Jewish Journalism, among others. Larry Cohler-Esses can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.