Three Democratic senators have again asked the Trump administration to disclose whether one of its top security officials is under investigation for allegedly lying when he became a U.S. citizen.
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Sebastian Gorka, a senior security adviser to President Donald Trump, “reportedly concealed his membership in the Vitézi Rend, a far-right anti-Semitic Hungarian organization with historical ties to the Nazis, when he applied for U.S. citizenship,” said the letter sent Monday. “The administration’s refusal to treat this matter with urgency is inexplicable and disturbing.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate; Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee; and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Blumenthal and Cardin are Jewish.
The letter follows up on the same request the three senators sent the administration in March. It notes that it took until Aug. 15 for the Department of Justice, one of the addressees, to reply and until May 8 for the Department of Homeland Security, the other addressee, to reply. In both cases, the agencies said only they would “take action if warranted.”
According to an article published in March by the Forward, Gorka, a native of Britain who is the son of Hungarian immigrants, allegedly is a member of Historical Vitézi Rend. The group is a namesake of Vitézi Rend, a defunct order of merit that had existed as a state entity for 20 years until 1944 under the rule of Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s Nazi-allied leader. Vitézi Rend was disbanded, outlawed and ceased to exist in the 1940s following the World War II defeat of Nazi Germany.
Gorka has denied being a fascist or anti-Semite. In a statement published in April by Tablet, Gorka was quoted as writing, “I have never been a member of the Vitez Rend. I have never taken an oath of loyalty to the Vitez Rend.” The statement did not mention the Historical Vitézi Rend group.
In their most recent letter, the senators also refer to reports that Gorka is unable to obtain a security clearance, saying that would impair Gorka’s ability to “effectively advise” Trump on counterterrorism, which is Gorka’s purported expertise.
It also notes that in recent media interviews, Gorka has downplayed the significance of violence emanating from the far-right and has mocked the Obama administration’s focus on identifying and preventing attacks by “lone wolf” terrorists. Gorka has theorized for instance that a recent arson attack on a Minnesota mosque was a “false flag” attack designed to spur public anger about hate crimes.
“Mr. Gorka’s reported affiliation with an extremist anti-Semitic organization affiliated with the Nazis is of particular public interest in light of the White House’s equivocal response to the violence that neo-Nazis and other white supremacists perpetrated last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia,” the letter said.
Trump, in the wake of a lethal attack by an alleged white supremacists on counterprotesters in Charlottesville, said “many sides” were to blame for the violence and that there were “very fine people” on both sides.