Amid a flood of reports that the White House’s self-styled counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka will soon be forced out of his job, anonymous administration officials are trying to make the case that his tenure advising President Donald Trump was always meant to be temporary.
One anonymous source told the Washington Examiner that Gorka, who reportedly never obtained a security clearance after he was charged last year for carrying a gun through an airport in Washington, D.C., was placed as a deputy assistant to the President while Trump’s team created a terrorism-related role for him at a federal agency.
The Daily Beast first reported his imminent departure on Friday, and with the Examiner’s Sunday report even conservative outlets are telegraphing that Gorka is on his way out. Breitbart News, where Gorka formerly worked as national security editor, is reporting that he will keep his post, though.
Gorka was initially brought on to work on counterterrorism and cybersecurity issues for the Strategic Initiatives Group, a strategic planning advisory panel put together by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. That group’s failure to become a productive center of power in the administration significantly diminished Gorka’s responsibilities.
After a few months at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, his duties were reduced to conducting Fox News hits, “giving White House tours, and peeling out in his Mustang,” according to the Examiner.
Even this limited role generated an outsized degree of controversy. Gorka came under fire from other U.S. counterterrorism experts for inflating his resume; was criticized by Muslim groups for his refusal to say if he believed Islam was a religion; and made headlines for his connection to a Hungarian knightly order that was originally founded by a Nazi collaborator.
He is expected to continue to focus on counterterrorism in his new, less prominent role. According to the Examiner, he’ll be working on the “war of ideas” involved in countering radical Islamic extremism.
The Trump administration has framed demotions as planned, intentional moves before. After Bannon was booted off the National Security Council, he released a statement saying he’d successfully completed his mission to “de-operationalize” the advisory body.