(JTA) — Fifty-five Democratic lawmakers signed on to a letter urging President Donald Trump to dismiss Sebastian Gorka, an adviser accused of being a member of a Hungarian far-right nationalist group.
Among the nine Congress members leading the effort, five are Jewish: Reps. Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey and Jerrold Nadler of New York, Bradley Schneider of Illinois and Ted Deutch of Florida.
“As members of the U.S. Congress who care deeply about fighting anti-Semitism at home and abroad, we urge you to immediately dismiss senior White House counterterrorism advisor Sebastian Gorka,” read the letter, which was sent Tuesday.
“Based on recent revelations about Mr. Gorka’s public support for and membership in several anti-Semitic and racist groups in Hungary, he is clearly unfit to serve in any position of responsibility in the White House,” it continued, citing Gorka’s alleged ties to various far-right groups in Hungary.
News media reported over the weekend that Gorka was planning to move out of his National Security Council portfolio to another role in the administration, with some claiming his failure to obtain a security clearance was the reason for the move. Asked about the reports Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there was “no personnel announcement at the time” and he had “no belief” that Gorka was leaving the White House.”
Last month, the Forward published a 2007 recording in which Gorka said he was not opposed to the establishment of the Hungarian Guard, a nationalist militia that later was accused of racism and anti-Semitism. In 2009, a Hungarian court banned the Guard.
According to an article published in March by the Forward, Gorka, a native of Britain who is the son of Hungarian immigrants, allegedly is a member of Historical Vitézi Rend. The group is a namesake of Vitézi Rend, a defunct order of merit that had existed as a state entity for 20 years until 1944 under the rule of Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s Nazi-allied leader. Vitézi Rend was disbanded, outlawed and ceased to exist in the 1940s following the World War II defeat of Nazi Germany.
Gorka has denied being a fascist or anti-Semite. In a statement published last month by Tablet, Gorka was quoted as writing, “I have never been a member of the Vitez Rend. I have never taken an oath of loyalty to the Vitez Rend.” The statement did not mention the Historical Vitézi Rend group.
The Democrats’ letter referred to the recording and reports of Gorka’s ties to the Vitezi Rend.
In March, Nadler and three top Democratic senators voiced concern over reports of Gorka’s alleged membership in the Historical Vitezi Rand.
Nadler sent a letter to Trump, and Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent one to the acting deputy attorney general, Dana Boente, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, urging them to investigate the circumstances of Gorka’s path to U.S. citizenship and whether he concealed his alleged membership in the group as part of his naturalization process.