Say It Ain’t So, Gorka! Controversial Trump Adviser Reportedly On The Way Out

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Sebastian Gorka’s days at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may be numbered. Three senior Trump administration officials who spoke to the Daily Beast said that discussions are underway on when and how to remove the scandal-plagued national security aide from his post.

Gorka, a deputy assistant to the President, came to the White House from a post as national security editor for Breitbart News and a string of gigs teaching and giving talks on counterterrorism at military universities and small think tanks.

Two officials told the publication that the White House was searching for a new role for him that did not require a security clearance, which BuzzFeed reported he had not obtained as recently as last month.

Given that Gorka is tasked with working on highly sensitive subjects including cybersecurity and counterterrorism, this lack of clearance is unusual and prompts questions about what other agency he could be assigned to. Gorka was also denied a security clearance in Hungary in 2002, multiple sources told TPM in February. This denial kept him off of a governmental panel investigating the then-prime minister, who was found to have worked for the Hungarian secret service during the Soviet era.

U.S. counterterrorism experts told TPM they had little awareness of Gorka’s professional work and derided his hardline views about Islam, inability to speak Arabic, and insistence on being addressed as “Doctor.”

During his tenure in the White House, Gorka has become known for defending Trump’s foreign policy in frequent bombastic Fox News interviews and for his association with a Hungarian knightly order originally founded by a Nazi collaborator.

He has denied belonging to the Order of Vitez, but acknowledged that his late father was a member of an offshoot group that formed after World War II and that he sometimes wore a medal associated with the group in commemoration.

Gorka stormed out of a Georgetown University panel on cybersecurity this week after he was pressed by undergraduate students about his affiliation with the Order of Vitez and his harsh rhetoric about Muslims.

Anonymous officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have heaped scorn on Gorka in interviews with the press.

A former Obama administration defense official told BuzzFeed this week that Gorka had little influence on policy and “basically sits in the White House canteen drinking coffee between Fox News live hits.”

Another source told the Daily Beast he was a “pain in the ass.”

Despite this stream of negative reports, it’s too early to predict the end for Gorka. When White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council in early April, political observers took it as a sign he’d soon be fired. But both he and Gorka remain in the White House—for now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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