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Three US senators say they want Sebastian Gorka – a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump – investigated over his immigration status.
Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Ben Cardin of Maryland sent a joint letter to the US Justice Department on Friday asking the agency to look into whether Gorka “falsified his naturalization application or otherwise illegally procured his citizenship.”
The inquiry comes after an exposé earlier this week alleged that Gorka had ties to Nazi-aligned groups.
The story, published by The Forward, alleged that Gorka is a sworn lifetime member of a Hungarian anti-Semitic, far-right group known as Vitézi Rend, which is listed by the US State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II.
Gorka has denied the allegations.
The senators said in their letter that they are “deeply concerned” by reports Gorka allegedly hid his supposed connections to Vitézi Rend when he applied for US citizenship, citing US code that prohibits such applicants from making false statements during naturalization proceedings.
The senators said in the letter their concerns about Gorka are aggravated by “the White House’s own checkered record on religious discrimination.”
“For the first time in decades, the White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention the Jewish victims, an omission which Dr. Gorka publicly defended,” the letter read. “President Trump was slow to condemn the wave of attacks on Jewish community centers and has yet to condemn the surge in anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Additionally, the senators’ letter linked the Trump administration’s moves to temporarily ban travel to the US from six majority Muslim nations as evidence to suggest public policy from the White House is being guided by principles uncharacteristic of American democracy.
Read the senators’ full letter below:
Dear Acting Deputy Attorney General Boente and Secretary Kelly:
We urge you to immediately investigate whether senior White House counterterrorism advisor Sebastian Gorka falsified his naturalization application or otherwise illegally procured his citizenship.
We are deeply concerned by reports that Dr. Gorka concealed the material fact of his membership in the Vitézi Rend, a far-right anti-Semitic Hungarian organization, when he applied for U.S. citizenship. As you know, it is unlawful to make a false statement in naturalization proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1015) and procuring naturalization by concealing a material fact or willful misrepresentation is punishable by denaturalization (8 U.S.C. 1425, 8 U.S.C. 1451).
According to the Forward, leaders of the Historical Vitézi Rend have identified Dr. Gorka as a sworn member of the organization who took a “lifelong oath of loyalty.” The State Department identifies the original Vitézi Rend, as a virulently anti-Semitic organization that operated under the direction of the Nazis during World War II. Dr. Gorka was photographed wearing a Vitézi Rend medal on several occasions, including at a Presidential inaugural ball earlier this year. He has also identified himself as “Dr. Sebastian L. v. Gorka” in written testimony before Congress. Experts note that the initial “v.” is used by sworn members of the Vitézi Rend.
We note that this Administration purports to have a special interest in ensuring that those with extremist views do not exploit our immigration laws. The President’s January 27thExecutive Order states, “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. … the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including … the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own).” Membership in an anti-Semitic organization like the Historical Vitézi Rend should raise serious concerns regarding whether an individual holds the sort of “hostile attitudes” that concern the Administration. Failure to address this case would further confirm the intent of this Administration is to discriminate on the basis of religion, rather than combat extremist views.
We are particularly troubled by Dr. Gorka’s reported affiliation with an anti-Semitic organization because of the White House’s own checkered record on religious discrimination. For the first time in decades, the White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention the Jewish victims, an omission which Dr. Gorka publicly defended. President Trump was slow to condemn the wave of attacks on Jewish community centers and has yet to condemn the surge in anti-Muslim bigotry. And the President has signed two executive orders, both of which have been blocked by federal courts, barring people from Muslim-majority countries and all refugees from entering the United States. The President’s orders are a notable departure from our nation’s bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees, which was established in the aftermath of our tragic failure to provide safe haven to Jews who were fleeing the Holocaust.
Again, we urge you to immediately investigate the circumstances surrounding Gorka’s naturalization. Thank you for your time and consideration.
RICHARD J. DURBIN
United States Senator
United States Senator
United States Senator