Writing at Lobeblog, leftist Trump critic Eli Clifton sought to link Sebastian Gorka -- a key advisor to President Donald Trump -- to Nazism. Gorka, who advises Trump on national security, was seen wearing a medal granted to his father by a Hungarian hereditary patriotic order for fighting to liberate Hungary from Soviet domination in 1956. Clifton cited photographs taken of Gorka at Trump's inauguration where the Trump advisor is presumably wearing a medal granted by the Vitezi Rend chivalric order.

Vitezi Rend -- the Hungarian Order of Heroes -- was founded by World War Two-era Hungarian dictator Admiral Miklos Horthy who collaborated with Adolf Hitler.

Referring to last week’s flap over the commemoration of the Holocaust by the White House, Clifton wrote that Gorka was an "odd choice" for the White House to offer a defense of the Holocaust Remembrance statement. Clifton said that the White House fielded objections from Jewish groups from “across the political spectrum” over the statement because it omitted any specific reference to the extermination of Jews during the Nazi period. The White House later revealed that the statement itself was written by a White House advisor, who also happens to be Jewish.

Clifton wrote that Gorka was “an odd choice” for the White House to offer a defense of the statement. Clifton wrote that Gorka -- a former British subject with family ties to Hungary who is now an American citizen -- “has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.” It is unclear what medal Gorka is wearing in the photographs.

Last week, Gorka responded to conservative talk show host Michael Medved, who suggested whether it was “questionable” that the White House did not to specifically acknowledge the Jewish victims of Nazism when it issued its Holocaust remembrance day in January. “No, I’m not going to admit it,” Gorka said. “Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course, it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.”
Clifton concluded, "Gorka’s decision to publicly identify with Vitezi Rend raises questions about Trump’s adviser and the administration’s flirtations with anti-Semitism and the alt-right. It’s even more awkward that he’s the person defending the administration’s explicit omission of Jewish victim of the Holocaust from the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement." Accusations of anti-Semitism have been laid at the feet of Donald Trump since the 2016 campaign, despite the fact that Trump's daughter and her husband are both Jews.


Clifton cited an expert he consulted about medals granted dictator Horthy to the Hungarian Order of Heroes to notable Hungarian patriots before the World War 2. Eva Balogh, an expert on Hungary consulted by Clifton, wrote that it was likely that Gorka’s grandfather was admitted to the patriotic order. She wrote that exceptionally valorous officers and enlisted men could become knights in the order, of which 23,000 were admitted between 1920 and 1944. Because Sebastian Gorka’s father was born in 1930, Balogh wrote, it is likely that it was the grandfather who was the original recipient.

Clifton offered photos taken from Gorka’s Facebook page in which he can be seen wearing a medal pinned on his traditional Hungarian jacket at an Inauguration ball.

In addition, Clifton offered some of the terrible history of the collaboration of Hungarians in the extermination of Jews in Hungary that began in 1941 when about 20,000 non-Hungarian Jews were deported to Ukraine and murdered. Admiral Horthy was replaced in 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary. It was during those years that some members of the Vitezi Rend collaborated with the Nazis, but Clifton offered no evidence that either Gorka’s father or grandfather were involved.

After the war, the State Department proscribed the Vitezi order, having linked it to Nazi collaboration and the Holocaust. Paul Gorka -- Gorka’s father -- fled Hungary after 1956 anti-communist patriotic uprising against the Soviet occupiers and went to the United Kingdom, where Gorka was born. Gorka’s late father’s book "Budapest Rising" identifies the elder Gorka as having been inducted into the new Order of Vitéz -- which was created for expatriate Hungarians -- "for his bravery during the Resistance." Many anti-communist Hungarians fled their native country rather than face torture and death.

Even while the Order of Vitéz was abolished by the communists in 1944, it was resurrected as a chivalric order in the late 20th century and still appears to award a medal similar to the one worn by Gorka. Once Clifton’s article was published, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted a link to it on its “Hate Watch” page, prompting prominent Democrats and progressives to tweet their approval. Among them was Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Hillary and Bill Clinton. She retweeted to her 1.48 million Twitter followers the SPLC’s tweet about the Hate Watch, writing “Depressing that we now need a hate watch headlines update. Since we do, thank you for your ongoing vigilance.”

Sebastian Gorka has long been an instructor and advisor on special operations to the Army and has also been notable in his warnings about the dangers posed by militant Islam. The Just Security website recently wrote of Gorka, "With the arrival of Sebastian Gorka at the White House, another Islamophobe has joined Team Trump," while also noting that his wife, Katie Cornell Gorka, has also written extensively on Islamic terrorism. Last year, after she appeared in a video interview with the Wall Street Journal concerning the risks associated with Muslim immigration, Gorka wrote at Breitbart that his family was inundated with death threats. He wrote that the FBI traced the threats to the "radical leftist group," Anonymous. Since then, Gorka said that his wife was advised to carry a pistol, while he has spent more time practicing at a shooting range.

According to Talking Points Memo, Hungarian scholars have not unanimously agreed that the medal worn by Gorka on inauguration night could definitively be identified with Horthy’s Order of Vitéz. The White House did not respond to requests from TPM for comment.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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