Donald Trump’s Deputy Assistant has angrily denied being anti-Semitic after he was spotted wearing a military medal associated with Hungarian Nazi sympathisers.
Sebastian Gorka, who is of Hungarian descent but was born and raised in the UK, was pictured wearing the controversial badge at an inaugural ball for Mr Trump and several other events.
According to the LobeLog blog, the medal was given to Mr Gorka’s father by the group Vitezi Rend – meaning Order of Heroes – that consisted of supporters of Miklos Horthy, the former ruler of Hungary, who collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two. The US State Department lists the group as being directed by Nazi Germany.
Horthy, who served as Regent of The Kingdom of Hungary between 1920 and 1944, was a self-declared hater of Jews. In 1940 he wrote: “Concerning the Jewish problem, for all my life I have been an anti-Semite.
“I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theatre, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad.
“To replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands…requires a generation at least”.
Despite the controversial history of the medal, Mr Gorka said he wore it in memory of his family and the suffering they endured. He said his father has been tortured and imprisoned by Hungarian communists in the late 1940s after he founded “underground organisations of pro-democracy, anti-Communists to work about the Soviet dictatorship”.
In a video released by far-right website Breitbart News, he said: “In 1979 my father was awarded a decoration for his resistance to dictatorship and, although he passed away 14 years ago, I wear that medal in remembrance of what my family went through and what it represents today to me as an American.
The medal “reminds me of what they suffered under the Nazis and under the communists”, he said.
“I’m a proud American now and I wear that medal now and again. Why? To remind myself where I came from, what my parents suffered under both the Nazis and communists and to help me in my work today, because as far as I’m concerned groups like the Islamic state, like Al-Qaida, they’re just another kind of totalitarian.
“They’re not communists, they’re not Nazis but they will enslave or kill you if you disagree with them. That’s my story.”
Mr Gorka reportedly has his own allegiance to Vitezi Rend. He has been known to sign his name, including on his PhD dissertation, as “Sebestyen L. v. Gorka”. Experts have said the initials “L.v” are used by those granted membership of the order and, when they die, by their oldest son.
Before joining Mr Trump’s team, Mr Gorka worked as a professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington and as national security editor of Breitbart.
He was arrested in January 2016 after trying to board a plane with a 9mm pistol, charged with a weapons offence and is set to appear before a judge later this month.