A top aide to US President Donald Trump who recently defended the administration’s omission of Jews from a Holocaust Remembrance Day statement has on several occasions worn insignia tied to Nazi collaborators in Hungary.
Sebastian Gorka, a former editor at Breitbart News and now a deputy assistant to the president, was photographed and interviewed at Trump’s inauguration wearing the uniform and medal of Vitézi Rend, a Hungarian order of merit closely associated with Nazi Germany.
The order was founded in 1920 by Miklós Horthy, who served as regent of Hungary until 1944, and comprised his supporters. 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.
Gorka, who is of Hungarian descent, may have inherited the medal and uniform from his grandfather, according to foreign policy site Lobelog.
The US State Department lists Vitézi Rend as a Nazi-linked group, which could render members ineligible for visas. Gorka became a US citizen in 2012.
Lobelog also noted that Gorka signed his PhD dissertation in 2007 as “Sebestyén L. v. Gorka” — “L. v.” being initials representing members of Vitézi Rend.
Other than at the inauguration, Gorka has worn the medal and uniform in the past, as seen in an undated photo on his Facebook page.
Gorka said criticism of the White House statement on the Holocaust was motivated solely by a desire to attack the president.
He lashed out after being asked last Monday by conservative talk show host Michael Medved if he would acknowledge that it was “questionable” for the White House not to specifically acknowledge the Jewish people in its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement last month.
“No, I’m not going to admit it,” Gorka said. “Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.”
Gorka was quoted by JTA in 2006 defending the reappearance of a Hungarian flag appropriated by the pro-Nazi Hungarian Arrow Cross.
The flag wavers “are a soft target, because how do you prove you’re not a fascist?” he said. “If you say eight centuries of history can be eradicated by 18 months of fascist distortion of symbols, you’re losing historic perspective.”
JTA contributed to this report.