A Democratic lawmaker on Thursday asked the White House to turn over immigration paperwork for Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to the President, in order to clarify whether he belongs to a group descended from a knightly order founded by a Nazi-allied Hungarian leader.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) letter to President Donald Trump cited a report in the Forward that an offshoot of the now-defunct Vitézi Rend, or Order of Vitéz, claims Gorka as a sworn member. The original order was established by Miklós Horthy, a Hungarian admiral and statesman whose regime deported hundreds of thousands of Jews to concentration camps during World War II.
Nadler wrote that he was “extremely disturbed” by the report and that Gorka, who’s styled himself as a counterterrorism expert to much criticism from other experts in that field, has “no place” in the administration if he is in fact a member of the group.
The Forward report claimed that, as the U.S. State Department previously refused entry to members of the Order of Vitéz because of its association with the Nazi-allied Horthy regime, Gorka, who was born in the United Kingdom, would have been legally obligated to disclose membership in the order’s descendant group on his U.S. citizenship application.
Nadler asked Trump to provide the House Judiciary Committee with Gorka’s immigration and citizenship applications to prove the aide “did not enter this country under false pretenses.”
Gorka has said he sometimes wears a medal associated with the Order of Vitéz, which belonged to his father, to commemorate his father’s anti-communist efforts in Hungary. In a statement to Tablet, he said he has “never been a member of the Vitez Rend” or “taken an oath of loyalty” to the group, as two current members told the Forward he had.
Gorka did not deny any affiliation with the group in a statement he later gave to the Forward, instead insisting he had no anti-Semitic views.
“I’ve been a committed opponent of anti-Semitism, racism and totalitarianism all my life,” Gorka said in a statement that the White House press office provided to the publication. “Any suggestion otherwise is false and outrageous. I am grateful to President Trump and his team for giving me the opportunity to serve and keep America safe against today’s totalitarians.”
Multiple Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and Bend The Arc, have asked Gorka to disclose any ties he may have to the group. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect and the National Jewish Democratic Council have called for Gorka’s resignation.
Read Nadler’s full letter below:
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump:
I was extremely disturbed to read a recent report in the Forward that Sebastian Gorka, a top counter-terrorism advisor in your Administration, is a member of the far-right group known as Historical Vitézi Rend. I ask that you immediately clarify whether Mr. Gorka is indeed a member of this racist and anti-Semitic group, and, if so, that you take appropriate action.
Vitézi Rend was a nationalist organization with an ideology of racial superiority founded by Miklos Horthy, a self-professed anti-Semite, who ruled Hungary from 1920 to 1944. Horthy collaborated with the Nazis and sent hundreds of thousands of Jews to die in Nazi concentration camps. The organization was banned by the Communist regime that ruled Hungary after World War II, but since that regime fell in 1989, two groups have since formed that claim to be the heirs to the original Vitézi Rend, holding the same nationalist and racist views as their predecessor. One of those groups is the Historical Vitézi Rend. Although Mr. Gorka has denied he is a member, several leaders of the organization claim that he is a formal member and has sworn a lifelong oath of loyalty.
Because of Vitézi Rend’s close association with the Nazi regime, under State Department guidelines, members are “presumed to be inadmissible to the United States.” If Sebastian Gorka is indeed a member of this organization, as high-ranking leaders of the organization claim he is, he would have been required to disclose this information on his immigration application, and on his application to be a naturalized U.S. citizen. Failing to do so, he may have been withholding important material facts about his background from the United States, in violation of the law. Therefore, I am asking that you provide the House Committee on the Judiciary with Sebastian Gorka’s immigration application and his application to be a U.S. citizen, so that the Committee can be assured that he did not enter this country under false pretenses.
The uncertainly over Mr. Gorka’s membership in this racist and anti-Semitic organization, and the White House’s silence in answering questions regarding his status, raise further concerns that this issue is not being treated with the urgency it deserves. Whether or not Mr. Gorka was honest in his immigration and citizenship applications, if he does in fact have ties with the Historical Vitézi Rend, I hope that you would have no place for someone who shares that organization’s offensive views in your Administration.
I look forward to your reply.
Member of Congress