August 21, 2017

Senators Press Justice, Homeland Security Departments on Investigation of Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka

Cardin, Durbin, Blumenthal called for probe five months ago, after reports surfaced of Gorka’s ties to neo-Nazi group

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today pressed the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to confirm whether senior White House counterterrorism advisor Sebastian Gorka is under investigation for falsifying his U.S. naturalization application by failing to disclose his membership in a Hungarian neo-Nazi organization. 

According to news reports, leaders of the Historical Vitézi Rend have identified Gorka as a member of the organization who took a “lifelong oath of loyalty.”

The senators called for an investigation of Mr. Gorka in March, but after months of delay, it is still unclear whether he is under investigation for naturalization fraud. 

As a senior counterterrorism advisor, Mr. Gorka is in a position of great importance and public trust. The American people are entitled to know if a senior White House official is under criminal investigation,” the senators wrote. “We are also concerned that, according to numerous media reports, Mr. Gorka has been unable to obtain a security clearance, which could be a result of an ongoing criminal investigation.  It is unclear how Mr. Gorka can effectively advise the President on counterterrorism and other national security matters without a security clearance.”

Full text of the senators’ letter:

August 21, 2017

The Honorable Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

 

The Honorable Elaine C. Duke

Acting Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

Dear Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Acting Secretary Duke:

We write to follow up on our March 17 letter urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to immediately investigate whether senior White House counterterrorism advisor Sebastian Gorka falsified his naturalization application or otherwise illegally procured American citizenship.  Five months have passed, yet you still have not confirmed that you are investigating these serious allegations.  As we wrote earlier, Mr. Gorka reportedly concealed his membership in the Vitezi Rend, a far-right anti-Semitic Hungarian organization with historical ties to the Nazis, when he applied for U.S. citizenship.  The Administration’s refusal to treat this matter with urgency is inexplicable and disturbing. 

We have received DOJ’s August 15 response and DHS’s May 8 response to our letter.  DHS said they would review our request and “take action if warranted.”  DOJ simply said that they shared this information with the FBI, despite DOJ’s responsibility to oversee FBI investigations.  It is unclear why your agencies took months to respond to our letter, since you did not address the only issue we raised: whether Mr. Gorka is under investigation for naturalization fraud. 

We understand that your agencies typically do not comment on ongoing investigations.  However you often confirm the existence of an investigation, particularly where the subject of the investigation is a matter of significant public interest.  That is clearly the case here.

As a senior counterterrorism advisor, Mr. Gorka is in a position of great importance and public trust. The American people are entitled to know if a senior White House official is under criminal investigation. 

We are also concerned that, according to numerous media reports, Mr. Gorka has been unable to obtain a security clearance, which could be a result of an ongoing criminal investigation.  It is unclear how Mr. Gorka can effectively advise the President on counterterrorism and other national security matters without a security clearance.

Moreover, Mr. Gorka’s reported affiliation with an extremist anti-Semitic organization affiliated with the Nazis is of particular public interest in light of the White House’s equivocal response to the violence that neo-Nazis and other white supremacists perpetrated last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We note that Mr. Gorka himself has recently downplayed the threat of violent rightwing extremism and demeaned those who have drawn attention to it.  For example, Mr. Gorka claimed without evidence that: “We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes by right-wing individuals in the last six months that actually turned out to be propagated by the left.”  He made the baseless allegation that the recent bombing of a mosque in Minnesota could have been committed by “people who fake hate crimes.”[1] 

Mr. Gorka also falsely asserted that “There’s no such thing as a lone wolf attack,” arguing that the concept was “invented by the last administration to make Americans stupid.”[2]  Mr. Gorka neglected to note that in 2004 a Republican-controlled Congress passed the so-called “lone wolf” amendment to allow secret surveillance of a suspected lone wolf terrorist.[3]  In the same interview, Mr. Gorka wrongly alleged: “There has never been — never been — a serious attack ... or a serious plot that was unconnected from ISIS or Al Qaeda, at least through the ideology and the TTPs — the tactics, the training, the techniques, and the procedures — that they supply through the internet. Never happened. It’s bogus.”[4]  In an interview with the “alt-right” publication Breitbart, Mr. Gorka claimed the mainstream media exaggerates the threat of domestic extremism, saying: “It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’ No, it isn’t, [New York Times journalist] Maggie Haberman. Go to Sinjar. Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today.  Go to Manchester.”[5]

Contrary to Mr. Gorka’s claims, an unclassified May 2017 FBI-DHS joint intelligence bulletin entitled, “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence” found that “white supremacist extremism poses [a] persistent threat of lethal violence,” and that white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”  Politico recently reported that “suspects accused of extreme right-wing violence have accounted for far more attacks in the U.S. than those linked to foreign Islamic groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, according to multiple independent studies.”

As we noted in our March 17 letter, the possibility that Mr. Gorka concealed his affiliation with an extremist organization is also of particular public interest because he works in an Administration that claims to engage in “extreme vetting” to ensure that those with extremist views do not exploit our immigration laws. 

Please respond to the following question no later than [two weeks after date of letter]:  Is Sebastian Gorka the subject of an investigation by DOJ (including FBI) or DHS for naturalization fraud or any other crimes?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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