President Donald Trump's deputy assistant and counter-terrorism specialist is Sebastian Gorka, and if you want to find the skeletons in his closet, you don't need to look further than his own name.
As the Forward points out, the conservative pundit and Trump surrogate has been known to sign important documents and academic journals Sebastian L. v. Gorka. The "v" is not a pretentious quirk, but actually an exclusive symbol used by members of the far-right Hungarian group, the Vitézi Rend. The Vitézi Rend were historical allies of the Nazis and are on the U.S. State Department watch list, its members "presumed to be inadmissible" to the country under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Gorka has kept tight lipped about his possible Vitézi Rend membership. Any answers he's given have been cagey, at best, and intended to deflect demands for his resignation rather than offer any real clarity. In fact, his excuses just make things even murkier.
Gorka has asserted that he merely inherited the Vitézi Rend title from his father, a sworn member of the order whom Gorka has said that he admired for his resistance to totalitarianism.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Gorka said, point blank, that he "never swore allegiance formally." However, other leaders of the group have told theForward and other news outlets that Gorka is indeed one of the order. Furthermore, according to György Kerekes, a current member of the Vitézi Rend, to be able to put a "v" in one's name is only possible after a thorough application process and oath of lifelong loyalty.
Recently uncovered documents poke additional holes in Gorka's claims. Articles found published by Gorka in 1998 and in 1999 show that he signed his name with the infamous "v" much earlier on in his life than originally thought. The Forward reported that these articles predate the death of Gorka's father by several years, throwing his claim of inheriting the title into serious question.
In addition to the sketchy answers he has offered about the "v," concerns continue to mount when we look at all he refuses to elaborate on.
The fact that Gorka immigrated to the United States in 2008 and achieved citizenship in 2012, paired with the other fact that members of the Vitézi Rend run the strong risk of being turned away at the border, raises the question: Did Gorka reveal his ties to the group, whatever they may be, to immigration agents? The Forward reported that he has declined to answer journalists when pressed on this.
Gorka has also not accounted for his 2007 endorsement of the anti-Semitic Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda). The paramilitary militia was eventually banned from the country for its goal of institutionalizing racism in the courts.
Another investigation by the Forward found that Gorka was a regular contributor to the weekly newspaper Magyar Demokrata, which the State Department informed Congress "published anti-Semitic articles and featured articles by authors who have denied the Holocaust.”
Gorka also founded the Hungarian political party called the New Democratic Coalition in partnership with two former members of Jobbik, a political party notorious for its anti-Semitic and racist views.
The more we learn about Sebastian L. v. Gorka, the more that seemingly innocuous "v" turns into a brand — a scarlet letter that Trump's crony is disturbingly proud to wear.
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