Sebastian Gorka, the senior adviser to Donald Trump who calls himself a terrorism expert but who isn’t viewed that way by actual terrorism experts, has multiple ties to anti-Semitic groups from his parents’ native Hungary. For example, in the past he has been seen and photographed wearing the uniform and medal of the Vitézi Rend, a far-right group of Nazi collaborators and sympathizers, and he has also signed his name with an initial associated with sworn members of the organization. Furthermore, members of the Rend told The Forward that he swore an oath of loyalty to it, though Gorka didn’t respond to a Forward request to comment on that front. Gorka has cycled through various explanations for his ties to these groups, sometimes referencing tributes to his father or to the victims of communism (a movement which the Vitézi Rend fought against).
Gorka is going to have more trouble explaining the Forward’s latest revelation, though. In an article posted this afternoon, Forward staffer Lili Bayer writes that in video from a 2007 appearance, Gorka “explicitly affirms his party’s and his support for the black-vested Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) — a group later condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for attempting to promote an ‘essentially racist’ legal order.”
Bayer, who has been all over this story, explains that the militia was established by Jobbik, the notorious far-right anti-Semitic political party, and that its “declared aim was to defend ‘ethnic Hungarians,’ since, its founders argued, Hungary lacked other means of ‘physical, mental or spiritual self-defense.’” The Guard was “formally banned in 2009, with the country’s highest court ruling that its anti-Roma marches violated the rights of the Hungarian Roma community. In 2013, two of its members were found guilty in a string of racially motivated murders of Hungarian Roma, including that of a 5-year-old, committed in 2008 and 2009.”
Gorka’s interview preceded those murders, but at the time Jewish groups and others in Hungary had already expressed alarm about the Guard. In the video, though, Gorka explicitly supports Jobbik’s move, partly on the grounds that Hungary “is sick … [and] cannot defend itself.” Gorka also brushes aside concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Hungary, explaining, “This type of accusation is the very useful tool of a certain political class.”
Normally, of course, any single one of these revelations about a high-ranking presidential adviser would be enough to get that cabinet member fired. But these aren’t normal times, and Gorka isn’t a normal adviser.