A senior aide to US President Donald Trump expressed support in the past for a Hungarian far-right paramilitary group with overt anti-Semitic tendencies, the Forward reported Monday.
In a 2007 interview, Sebastian Gorka — then a struggling Hungarian politician, now deputy assistant to Trump — said his party UDK and he himself backed the Hungarian Guard (or Magyar Gárda), the de facto military wing of the far-right Jobbik party which was eventually outlawed by Hungarian courts.
Gorka said at the time that Hungary’s official military “is sick, and totally reflects the state of Hungarian society…This country cannot defend itself,” according to the Forward.
The Guard was disbanded by courts in 2009, on the grounds that its menacing, militaristic demonstrations threatened minorities as well as public order.
The group was allegedly modeled on the Hungarian Arrow-Cross regime that murdered many thousands of Jews as well as Roma, homosexuals and political dissidents during the Holocaust.
The Forward noted that the Guard’s members were known for fascist and anti-Semitic leanings. One prominent captain, István Dósa, called Jews “Zionist rats,” “locusts” and “nation-destroyers.”
Gorka has been steeped in racial controversy since his appointment. In March reports surfaced that he was a member of a Nazi-allied Hungarian group to which he supposedly took an oath of lifelong loyalty. Democratic senators have called for an investigation of the matter.
He was photographed and interviewed at Trump’s inauguration wearing the uniform and medal of the Hungarian group Vitézi Rend, which the State Department says was “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany.”
Gorka has denied the allegations, saying he was never a member of the group, and insisting he has “occasionally worn my father’s medal and used the ‘v.’ initial” used by members only to honor his father’s “struggle against totalitarianism” in Hungary.
The adviser was also one of the administration’s chief defenders after it came under criticism for issuing a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention Jews.
Eric Cortellessa and JTA contributed to this report.