Well before Sebastian Gorka went public Friday with claims that he had resigned as deputy assistant to the President, an order barring him from entering the White House complex reportedly circulated among Secret Service staffers.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes obtained two emails, sent at 6:45 and 7:15 p.m., notifying Secret Service staff that a “do not admit” order had been issued for Gorka and that his blue badge allowing him free rein of the White House and neighboring Old Executive Office Building had been deactivated.
“Mr. Gorka is more than likely still in possession of his PIV and the WH Pass, as his DNA status was performed without him being on Complex,” read the second email obtained by MSNBC, which was sent to the Joint Operations Center that runs security for the White House complex.
At 9:11 p.m., less than an hour after Gorka’s resignation letter was published on the conservative website The Federalist, a White House communications staffer said in a statement to the press that Gorka did not resign, but “no longer works at the White House.”
The emails obtained by MSNBC complicate the controversial White House aide’s insistence that he left his job voluntarily.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters did not respond to detailed questions about the “do not admit” order, saying only, “We do not comment on personnel matters.” The Secret Service did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
The exact play-by-play of Gorka’s final days remain murky, with various news outlets offering different accounts. What’s clear is that Gorka had spent the two weeks prior to his departure on vacation.
The New York Times spoke to two administration officials who said that Chief of Staff John Kelly made it known during the time Gorka was on vacation that he did not want the staffer to return, and was instrumental in forcing him out. Yahoo News reported that Kelly informed Gorka on Friday that his security clearance had been revoked, prompting Gorka to announce that he would resign instead of returning to work as planned on Monday.
Whether Gorka was issued a security clearance at all, and what degree of access to sensitive information he had access to, was never confirmed during his tenure. Although he was appointed to advise President Donald Trump on counter-terrorism issues, the Associated Press reported in May that Gorka had been unable to receive the clearance required to sit on the National Security Council because of a past weapons charge for carrying a firearm at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. His exact duties at the White House were unclear, and Gorka seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time arguing with cable news hosts about the unreported successes of the Trump administration.
Gorka has similarly spent the days since his ouster on a media blitz, telling any journalist who will host him that he resigned out of concern that “the forces of MAGA” were being undermined and cast out of the White House.
The emails to Secret Service staff obtained by MSNBC don’t necessarily clarify the terms of his departure, according to Juliette Kayyem, who served as assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in Obama’s Department of Homeland Security. Kayyem told TPM that all those emails prove is that “the departure was unanticipated.”
“It’s exactly what should happen in any termination situation—voluntarily or involuntarily,” Kayyem wrote in an email. “It shows despite all the tensions at the NSC, the systems are still intact. When I left DHS, voluntarily, I had to hand in my badge, sign some confidentiality obligations, and be escorted out of the DHS campus. Given that Gorka wasn’t there, the emails were totally appropriate.”