According to the Jewish-American news outlet Forward, the top counter-terror advisor to President Trump is a sworn member of a Hungarian far-right group “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II.
Forward says Sebastian Gorka‘s membership in the Vitézi Rend was confirmed by the organization itself, saying he “took a lifelong oath of loyalty to their group.” Gorka, who is an immigrant, could have his status threatened if he didn’t disclose his membership in the group when he entered the U.S.
The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was established as a loyalist group by Admiral Miklos Horthy, who ruled Hungary as a staunch nationalist from 1920 to October 1944. A self-confessed anti-Semite, Horthy imposed restrictive Jewish laws prior to World War II and collaborated with Hitler during the conflict. His cooperation with the Nazi regime included the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews into Nazi hands.
The group to which Gorka reportedly belongs is a reconstitution of the original group on the State Department list, which was banned in Hungary until the fall of Communism in 1989. There are now two organizations in Hungary that claim to be the heirs of the original Vitézi Rend, with Gorka, according to fellow members, belonging to the so-called “Historical Vitézi Rend.” Though it is not known to engage in violence, the Historical Vitézi Rend upholds all the nationalist and oftentimes racial principles of the original group as established by Horthy.
Speaking to Forward, retired immigration judge Bruce Einhorn thinks there’s definitely a case for having Gorka’s immigration status looked into.
— David Frum (@davidfrum) March 16, 2017
The Trump Administration is appalled that Sebastian Gorka swore a loyalty oath to a Hungarian Nazi group.
They prefer native-born Nazis.
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) March 16, 2017
“This is a group that advocates racialist nativism,” Einhorn said, adding that “failure to disclose” membership in a known nationalist group could undermine Gorka’s immigration status and claim to citizenship. “It’s a material fact that, if disclosed, would have provoked a significant inquiry into the specific post-war role of this organization and Gorka’s activities in it.”
“My view is that it would be a legitimate case — difficult and challenging, but I believe winnable.”
Questions began to swirl about Gorka’s possible membership in the group when he was spotted wearing the group’s medal on his lapel during an inauguration ball on January 20. He claimed the medal was a sentimental remembrance of his father. When ThinkProgress asked him about it, he claimed that it was “not a Nazi-sympathizer pin” and that people should “google it.” But Forward’s investigation suggests there’s more to the story.
Forward has reported on Gorka’s ties to anti-semitic groups and “neo-fascists” before, but these latest revelations are the most damning yet.
Although the organization has changed since World War II, it’s still openly embraces racist and anti-semitism.
Today, the organization presents itself as a “conservative, right-wing” group independent of party politics. But some of the organization’s newer members also openly embrace racist and anti-Semitic views. Footage on YouTube of a 2012 swearing-in ceremony of new members reveals Zsolt Bayer, a publicist and writer known as one of Hungary’s most outspoken anti-Semites, being initiated as a member.
You can read Forward’s full report here.