Trump, Bannon Intervened to Keep Gorka In West Wing
President Donald Trump and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon “personally intervened” to keep national security aide Sebastian Gorka at the White House, after others in the administration were trying to move him to another federal agency, according to senior administration sources.
Last week, sources reported that Gorka was leaving his post as a national security adviser and part of the Strategic Initiatives group to work with a federal agency that examines the ‘war of ideas’ on countering radical Islamic terrorism. A day later, however, other sources insisted Gorka was not leaving after all.
According to The Daily Beast on Saturday, Trump sees Gorka as being a vital commentator of his administration’s anti-terrorism stance. Further, Bannon and Gorka worked together at Breitbart News, where Gorka was Bannon’s national security editor.
Gorka was to leave the West Wing, the initial reports claimed because of his difficulty obtaining security clearances and over his involvement with the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian nationalist group with alleged historical ties to Nazi Germany.
One of the group’s leaders told NBC News in April it was “proud” that Gorka wore its honorary medal while attending Trump’s Inaugural Ball.
Gorka has denied membership in the organization, and said he wore the medal that had been awarded to his Hungarian-born father.
In addition, many critics say Gorka’s anti-Muslim views are extreme, reports The Daily Beast. Senior administration sources said Gorka was “biding his time” on the federal payroll and has few duties at the White House.
Another Trump administration official told The Daily Beast that rumors were swirling following the website’s initial report last week that Gorka was being thrown out of the West Wing immediately.
“[Bannon] put a stop to it—he’s loyal and a friend’s job was in danger and reputation was getting dragged through the mud,” the official said. Trump then told Gorka his job remained safe, and talk about moving Gorka out of the White House also stopped at that time, reports The Daily Beast.
Gorka himself told Fox News Radio that the reports are “very fake news” and that he’ll remain at the White House as long as Trump wants him there, but if he is needed somewhere else, “I will do whatever he needs me to do.”
White House foreign policy adviser Dr. Sebastian Gorka won loud applause from the audience at the annual Jerusalem Postconference in New York on Sunday with a strident defense of his record and the Trump administration’s policies.
Gorka, who followed Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog and World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder, was interviewed onstage by the Post‘s editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz.
Katz did not waste time before jumping into the most controversial issues, questioning Gorka about rumors — spread largely by left-wing blogs and websites — of his membership in an anti-semitic Hungarian order.
Gorka denied those reports, noting his father’s efforts to protect Jews from the Nazis, and his own lifelong struggle against totalitarian ideologies. He noted that he was “proud” to wear a medal his father had won from the post-war Vitezi Rend order for his anticommunist activism, adding that the new order had nothing to do with its pro-Nazi predecessor, which was disbanded after the Second World War.
Gorka pointed out that Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, had honored one of the members of the Vitezi Rend as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” for saving Jews during the Holocaust. And he noted that he had long been an advocate for Jews and for Israel, noting that even those publications that had set out to destroy him found no evidence of any antisemitic statements.
In addition Gorka dismissed reports that he was leaving the administration as “very fake news,” and downplayed media speculation about infighting in the White House, describing all of the different advisers to the president as “patriots.”
From there, the discussion moved into foreign policy, with Gorka emphasizing the Trump administration’s commitment to Israel’s security, as well as to the peace process. He also defended the administration’s tough line on radical Islam, criticizing President Barack Obama’s administration for avoiding the religious inspiration of terrorists and for “leading from behind” — which, he noted, was “following,” in plain English.
Asked whether he, and the administration as a whole, were Islamophobic, Gorka pointed out that many of the U.S. military personnel he had instructed in counter-terrorism were Muslims, and noted that America’s Arab allies saw the struggle as one within Islam, not against Islam as a whole. He stressed the importance of helping Muslims win the war against radical Islamic terror, but without invading and occupying foreign countries.
He noted that many of the administration’s toughest critics were people aligned with the anti-Israel “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS) movement, as well as supporters of the Iran deal.
Gorka’s critics seemed mostly reduced to fuming at the Jerusalem Post on Twitter.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.