ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — A Virginia judge on Friday dismissed a gun charge against White House national security adviser Sebastian Gorka, finding that the former Breitbart editor met the terms of his plea deal.
Judge William T. Newman Jr. said he was dismissing the charge given that Gorka met the required six months of good behavior after his August plea deal. Gorka was arrested Jan. 31, 2016 for bringing a handgun through security at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington and faced up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500 for the class one misdemeanor.
Gorka did not show up in court, instead sending his attorney, Chris Oprison, to represent him.
“Dr. Gorka made a mistake,” Oprison told reporters after the dismissal. “He started carrying a licensed concealed weapon when he got death threats against his family. He regrets the mistake.”
Oprison said that Gorka was caught with the weapon when he was leaving Washington, D.C. to give a military intelligence briefing, and that he forgot he had a gun in his carry-on bag. According to police reports, Gorka was required to forfeit his 9mm Browning handgun.
“Right now, Mr. Gorka wants to put this behind him and get back to providing national security counsel to the president,” Oprison said.
When asked how the charges would affect Gorka’s security clearance, Oprison pointed out that Gorka is still on Trump’s National Security Council. Several security clearance experts told ThinkProgress before the dismissal that Gorka’s misdemeanor charge would not necessarily affect his clearance.
The gun charge is not the only misdemeanor on Gorka’s record. On Feb. 19, 2016, just a few weeks after the gun charge, Gorka was arrested in Spotsylvania County, Virginia for reckless driving. On April 25, he was found guilty in absentia, meaning he did not show up for the hearing or send an attorney to represent him.
Oprison refused to tell ThinkProgress if he also represented Gorka for the driving charge, or if the charge violated the terms of his plea deal and deferred sentencing for the gun charge.
According to court records, Gorka has previously been arrested for reckless driving at least one other time in Fairfax County, Virginia in September 2014. The charge was amended from a reckless driving misdemeanor to a speeding infraction in court, and Gorka paid the $150 fine.
Less than an hour after the hearing on Friday, Gorka appeared on Fox News to defend Trump’s Muslim ban. He called the idea “absurd” that radicals could use the White House’s actions as a recruiting tool.
“The idea that a document signed in Washington will have an effect positive or negative on a group of people that believes you and I are infidels and should be beheaded unless we convert to their version of Islam, it is so naive it doesn’t bear commenting on,” he said. “The fact is they believe they have the true version of Islam. If you don’t agree with them you must be enslaved or killed. Nothing will deter them from their belief that they are in a religious war with us.”
Gorka was previously a regular commentator on the network, but according to a Business Insider report, Fox News terminated its contract with Gorka when network executives learned about his expected White House position.
At Breitbart, Gorka worked as national security editor and authored articles that claimed President Obama “helped ISIS” by holding a summit on violent extremism, that made claims about Saudi Arabia’s connection to Al Qaeda and the September 11th attacks, and described how “America is Losing the War Against Sunni Jihadists and Empowering The Shia Caliphate.”
Gorka has not spoken publicly about the gun charge, but two days after he was arrested last year, he responded to a tweet about the incident by claiming that he “made a simple mistake” and “got a ticket.”
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) February 3, 2016
Gorka is not the only member of Trump’s national security staff to have faced criminal charges. Two decades ago, Steve Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and battery in California, but the charges were later dropped when his ex-wife did not appear in court. Bannon is now assistant to the president and White House strategist.