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Allegra Kirkland

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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UPDATE 10:21 a.m: This post has been updated to include more context around the allegation against Clifton and comment from Judd Legum, Clifton’s editor at the time.

White House aide Sebastian Gorka on Tuesday addressed reports that the medal he wore to one of President Donald Trump's inaugural balls was associated with a Nazi ally by alleging that the journalist who first surfaced the story was “fired for antiSemitism.”

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During an interview with Fox News broadcast from one of President Trump's inaugural balls, soon-to-be White House aide Sebastian Gorka wore a medal that some Hungarian news outlets and scholars identified with Miklós Horthy, the anti-Semitic World War II-era leader whose regime witnessed the murder of some 600,000 Hungarian Jews.

Still days away from officially joining the Trump administration, Gorka, a former Breitbart News editor and self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert known for his hardline views on Islam, effused to Sean Hannity about the the death of “political correctness” in the Trump era. As the interview unfolded, Fox played clips of the President and First Lady dancing at the ball earlier in the evening.

Gorka’s choice of dress, a black braided jacket known as a "bocskai" adorned with two medals, wouldn't necessarily catch the eye of an American viewer. But some Hungarians who came across the interview interpreted the getup as a nod to the knightly order of merit Horthy founded in 1920, the Order of Vitéz. Right-wing Hungarian media in particular fixated on what it saw as Gorka's callback to a resurgent native icon of the far-right.

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Sebastian Gorka never became a household name among the counterterrorism experts who populate K Street think tanks and university international relations departments during his years in Washington, D.C. Now he is President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant.

While Gorka, a former Breitbart News national security editor and fixture on Fox News, published the New York Times bestseller “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War,” held various positions at military educational institutions and even testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the threat of “global jihadism,” he was little-known in mainstream D.C. circles before the 2016 election year.

Some foreign policy and counterterrorism experts declined to speak to TPM on the record because of Gorka’s position in the new administration. But others characterized him as a peripheral figure whose hardline ideas about Islam and the threat posed by the Islamic State terror group place him firmly outside the mainstream.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was silenced on the Senate floor late Tuesday night for attempting to read a biting letter about Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) written by Coretta Scott King. Back in 1986, King argued that the Alabama Republican was unfit to serve as a federal judge because of his hostile attitude towards voting rights for African Americans.

Republicans said that reading the letter from Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow violated Senate rules against impugning another senator and voted along party lines to keep Warren from speaking further.

King’s full statement is posted below:

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