WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators are calling for an investigation into Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump, after a report surfaced that he was a member of a Nazi-allied Hungarian group — to which he supposedly took an oath of lifelong loyalty.
Members of the group known as Vitézi Rend told The Forward Thursday that Gorka, one of Trump’s top counter-terrorism advisers, has been long affiliated with their order. The State Department has said the organization was “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany.”
In response, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security Friday asking for an investigation into the matter.
Among the main requests that the senators made was for the departments to look into whether Gorka falsified information on immigration materials when he became a naturalized American citizen in 2012.
“We urge you to immediately investigate whether senior White House counter-terrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka falsified his naturalization application or otherwise illegally procured his citizenship,” they wrote.
“We note that this Administration has expressed a special interest in ensuring that those with extremist views do not exploit our immigration laws,” the senators wrote. “We are deeply concerned by reports that Dr. Gorka concealed the material fact of his membership in the Vitézi Rend, a far-right anti-Semitic Hungarian organization, when he applied for US citizenship.”
Gorky has denied the allegations. He told Tablet Magazine he’s never had any such affiliation with the neo-Nazi nativist group. “I have never been a member of the Vitez Rend,” he said. “I have never taken an oath of loyalty to the Vitez Rend. Since childhood, I have occasionally worn my father’s medal and used the ‘v.’ initial to honor his struggle against totalitarianism.”
Gorka was photographed and interviewed at Trump’s inauguration wearing the uniform and medal of the Hungarian group. He may have inherited the medal and uniform from his grandfather, according to foreign policy site Lobelog.
Vitézi Rend was founded in 1920 by Miklós Horthy, who served as regent of Hungary until 1944. Horthy was an ally of Adolf Hitler and collaborated with the Nazis throughout most of World War II. During the war, confiscated Jewish property was distributed to members of the order by the Hungarian government.
The senators’ letter said there was added urgency to investigating the matter based on the administration’s history.
“We are particularly troubled by Dr. Gorka’s reported affiliation with an anti-Semitic organization because of the White House’s own checkered record on religious discrimination,” the senators said. “For the first time in decades, the White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention the Jewish victims, an omission which Dr. Gorka publicly defended.”
They also said the president “was slow to condemn the wave of attacks on Jewish community centers and has yet to condemn the surge in anti-Muslim bigotry.”