A deputy assistant to President Donald Trump has spent years working closely with members of Hungary’s anti-Semitic hard right, according to a Friday report from The Forward, a publication for American Jews. The report says Sebastian Gorka, who advises the White House on national security, co-founded a political party with former members of Jobbik, which is frequently described as a fascist party.
Gorka — who once said it would be “national suicide” to admit Muslim refugees — also spent time working for the Hungarian National Committee, a Jobbik-linked coalition led in part by the head of the ultra-nationalist 64 Counties Youth Movement, according to The Forward.
Although Jobbik has tried to soften its image in recent years, party leaders have called for a registry of all Jewish government officials and indulged in nostalgia for the reign of Regent Miklós Horthy, a Nazi collaborator. The Forward reports Magyar Jelen, the official paper of the 64 Counties Movement, has said that Hungarians “need to take back our country” from the Jews, who are “sucking on our blood, getting rich off our blood.”
Gorka told The Forward in an email that his short-lived party, the New Democratic Coalition, “was established in direct response to the unhealthy patterns visible at the time in Hungarian conservative politics.” He denied allying himself with far-right nationalists.
When asked about a series of articles he had contributed to Magyar Demokrata — a publication that the U.S. State Department has said publishes anti-Semitic content — Gorka professed ignorance regarding the views of its editor.
But Gorka has telegraphed his affinity for the Hungarian hard-right as recently as this year. The night of Trump’s inauguration, he appeared on Fox News wearing an outfit reminiscent of Horthy’s government.
When asked earlier this week why he had worn a pin associated with Nazi collaborators, Gorka said it was “not a Nazi sympathizer pin” and that ThinkProgress should “Google it.”
Gorka aside, the Trump administration’s ties to European neo-fascist parties are both broad and deep. Before he was ousted earlier this month, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn apparently met with the leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, a far-right party founded by ex-Nazis. Top White House strategist Steve Bannon has expressed his admiration for hard-right parties like the UK Independence Party and France’s National Front — and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage himself has acted as an occasional Trump adviser.
Last month, National Front leader Marine Le Pen — currently a candidate for France’s presidency — was spotted in New York’s Trump Tower, though she said she was not there to meet with anyone connected to the administration.
Kira Lerner contributed reporting to this piece.