April 24, 2017
President Trump’s top counter-terrorism aide, Sebastian Gorka, has offered varied and sometimes contradictory accounts of his association with the Vitézi Rend, a far-right Hungarian group that is on a U.S. State Department “watch list.”
Now, new research by the Forward has revealed that Gorka’s use of a special lower-case “v.” insignia in his signature, which the Vitézi Rend allows only sworn members to use, goes back much further than previously known.
In articles he published in 1998, when he was 28 years old, and then in 1999, Gorka signed his name “Sebestyén L. v. Gorka,” using the Hungarian honorific abbreviation for “Vitez,” which is reserved exclusively for sworn members of the Vitézi Rend order.
The articles predated the death of Gorka’s father by several years, making his assertion that he simply inherited the title from his father, as he has claimed, seemingly impossible.
Gorka, who immigrated to America from Hungary nine years before he landed in the White House, has given contradictory information about his ties to the group, which the State Department labeled as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II. In one interview, he denied he was a member of one of the organization’s two modern-day incarnations, known as the Historical Vitézi Rend. At other times, he said he merely “inherited the title of Vitez through the merits of my father.”
“I never swore allegiance formally,” he told the British newspaper the Telegraph.
The question is not academic; Gorka would have been required to reveal his membership in the far-right group both when he applied to enter the United States in 2008 and when he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2012. He has declined to respond to questions about whether he did so.
He has also not responded to questions about his 2007 endorsement, while leading a political party in Hungary, of an extreme right-wing paramilitary militia led by anti-Semites. The militia was later banned by court orders for seeking to promote an “essentially racist” legal order. An investigation by the Forward also found that Gorka wrote regularly for a well-known anti-Semitic paper while active in Hungary, and that he co-founded his political party with prominent former members of Jobbik, a party with a long record of anti-Semitism and racism against Hungary’s Roma minority.