Thursday morning, the Forward exclusively revealed that Sebastian Gorka, a top counter-terrorism adviser within the Trump administration, had sworn a lifelong oath to the Vitézi Rend, a far-right Hungarian group with ties to the actual Nazi party.
But Gorka says he’s never sworn a loyalty oath to the Vitezi Rend, and that in order to believe he’d have direct connections to the Nazi party, you’d have to believe, well, the actual Nazi party.
The group’s leaders, who trace their organization back to an anti-Semitic loyalty group in Hungary, responsible for that country’s collaboration with the greater German Nazi party before and during World War II—including turning in thousands of Hungarian Jews for imprisonment and death—told the Forward that Gorka took “a lifelong oath of loyalty” with one of its top members during a trip to the Hungarian border.
But speaking to Tablet, Gorka said that while his father was a member of the anti-Communist resistance in Hungary after World War II (and had a Vitézi Rend medal to prove it—which Gorka wore to Donald Trump’s inauguration), he has never sworn any kind of loyalty oath to Nazis.
“I have never been a member of the Vitezi Rend. I have never taken an oath of loyalty to the Vitez Rend. Since childhood, I have occasionally worn my father’s medal and used the ‘v.’ initial to honor his struggle against totalitarianism,” he said.
Tablet calls this a “perfectly plausible explanation,” though it is confusing and isn’t, technically, a denial. Perhaps more convincingly, Tablet points out that in order to believe Gorka is a Nazi himself you have to take a group of Nazis at their word.
And while we’re not necessarily saying Nazis aren’t trustworthy…okay, yes, we’re saying it. Nazis aren’t trustworthy.
The White House, which says it was initially reticent to respond to what it believes were ridiculous criticisms, called the allegations implausible.
“These guys genuinely believed that the allegations were so blatantly false and so aggressively poorly-sourced, that no responsible journalist would ever publish them,” a source close to the matter told the Tablet. “Is Seb Gorka, whose family literally bears the scars of anti-fascist fights, a secret Nazi cultist? Come on now.”
Indeed it also seems that the Vitezi Rend has several different iterations: the original Nazi version, a few far-right offshoots that skirt Naziism but don’t go full Hitler, and a “Historical” offshoot of those, which while far-right, is somewhat removed from the original group’s founding membership.
Gorka, the Forward says, seems to belong to one of them, but there’s a big difference between belonging to the original one and the more recent version (notably, direct collaboration with Nazis). The Forward also says that if Gorka belongs to one of these groups, he failed to tell the US government, which could imperil his citzenship; members of the Vitezi Rend aren’t allowed to pursue permanent residency in the states.
At the very least, Gorka’s history is convoluted and the man himself doesn’t seem to want to give specific answers.
One Congressman, New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler says that he will likely pursue a deeper investigation into Gorka’s relationship with the Hungarian groups.