Take a good look at this face. Remember it. Tell me if you think his history and bio would withstand the extreme vetting called for by the Trump White House.
His name is Sebastian Gorka. Born in London of Hungarian refugee parents, he was educated in London and Budapest. In Budapest he began cultivating a reputation as a counter-terrorism expert though his only military service was a three-year stint in a British Territorial Army reserve unit.
Mr. Gorka moved to Hungary in 1992 and remained there until 2007. While there he aligned himself with Viktor Orbán, the current president, who has been widely criticized for his autocratic removal of democratic checks and balances in the supervision of elections, the judiciary, and the media. While in Hungary, Mr. Gorka married Katherine Cornell, an American steel heiress known for her conservative views. During this 16 year-long tenure in Hungary he was a member of or associated with several anti-Semitic organizations (including Vitez Rend, named for the WWII Nazi-allied leader). In 2007 he was awarded a PhD. from Corvinus University in Budapest (known primarily for its agricultural curriculum and ranked 701 by topuniversities.com.)
One year later, Mr. and Mrs. Gorka moved to the US on the strength of his wife’s citizenship. He was awarded a Green Card and four years later (2012) became a naturalized American. On arrival in the US, the Gorkas associated themselves with ultra-conservative institutions while he padded his resume with a questionable online professorship at Marine Corps University. In 2014 he became National Security Editor at Breitbart News as well as a regular contributor to Fox News.
Sebastian Gorka is an Alt-Right ideologue with no experience in counter-terrorism. His bogus credentials raise serious questions related to the vetting and staffing of the national security apparatus of the White House.
But, to really understand Gorka and his role it is important to understand the rise in autocratic rule in Hungary. This is where Mr. Gorka learned his craft and honed his ideology. It is also the model for what could happen in America under Donald Trump. David Frum’s article How to Build an Autocracy in the March 2017 Atlantic details the methods and outcomes in Hungary and what Steve Bannon envisions when he talks about “deconstructing the administrative state.”
Here’s what else you need to know about Sebastian Gorka: His official title is Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States. He is in a position to influence the most uninformed president in American history. His elevation is unprecedented especially when the Trump administration is calling for the “extreme vetting” of immigrants, visa applicants, and refugees.f
In addition to his ultra-conservative activities in the nationalist politics of Hungary, Mr. Gorka has comported himself in a questionable manner since arriving in the US. In December of 2016, notably after the Trump victory, Mr. Gorka was detained at Ronald Reagan International Airport as he tried to carry a 9mm handgun on a commercial flight. One month later was arrested on a charge of reckless driving. He was found guilty when he failed to appear in court on the charge and it was revealed that he had a prior arrest for reckless driving in 2014. So, what was the outcome? Incredulously, in February all charges related to the handgun incident were dismissed. The judge cited Gorka’s six months of good behavior for his decision to dismiss the gun charge.
Two uncontested reckless driving arrests and one attempt to carry a handgun aboard a US airliner in the past 3 years. Charges dismissed? Would another immigrant pass the “extreme vetting” procedures with this record? What about a Syrian doctor who survived the pounding of Aleppo, escaped with his family, walked through Turkey, bought passage to Lesbos on a smuggler’s unseaworthy boat, and now seeks political asylum in the US? We’re told that under the Obama protocol it would take the doctor three years to be approved for a visa. Under Trump’s flawed travel bans, he would be denied the opportunity to even apply.
The story is vintage Trump. The Breitbart connection linked Gorka to Bannon. Bannon was looking for an alt-right voice to include in the administration. Gorka had bogus but high sounding credentials and a rich conservative wife. Bingo! Charges dismissed and the gift of a promotion to Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States. Yes, that’s right, Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States.
Today, two Democratic lawmakers from New York, Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both Jewish, sent a letter to President Trump asking him to fire Gorka based on his history and affiliations with anti-Semitic associations. I doubt that the president will be moved. My guess is that this is the message Gorka, Bannon, and Trump will send back to the lawmakers and the American people.