Sebastian Gorka (Getty/Alex Wong)

Reports: Former Breitbart editor Sebastian Gorka is leaving the White House after he couldn't get a security clearance

Some Trump administration staffers were never clear on what exactly he did for a job


Matthew Sheffield
May 1, 2017 8:09PM (UTC)

In another sign that the Trump administration is pivoting away from an Islam-focused foreign policy toward a more conventional Republican one, several reports have suggested that Sebastian Gorka, the former Breitbart News editor who has been giving high-level advice on security issues will be transitioning to a role outside of the White House.

Gorka is currently one of several staff members of the Strategic Initiatives Group, a new advisory panel that was created by President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon. The British-born Hungarian had previously worked for Bannon as the national security editor of Breitbart News when the latter was CEO of the conservative news site.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, Gorka was not able to gain the required clearance to work on the more important National Security Council after he admitted to illegally carrying a pistol inside a Washington-area airport in January 2016. Gorka's attorney said the weapon was duly licensed and that Gorka had been carrying it after receiving death threats; the lawyer added that it was a "mistake" for him to have brought the weapon to the airport.

It isn't known what role Gorka will be moving to after he leaves the White House. During his time serving as a deputy assistant to the president, it was unclear what he did for Trump besides advocate for him in media interviews. "This guy has always been a big mystery to me," an anonymous Trump adviser told the Washington Examiner. That individual claimed the only things Gorka appeared to do besides media hits were "giving White House tours and peeling out in his Mustang."

The Examiner's sources claimed Gorka would receive a political appointment to an unspecified federal agency.

A veteran military academic, Gorka became a controversial figure after he was accused of supporting a far-right Hungarian political parties. In a 2007 interview, Gorka defended a paramilitary group that used logos of a defunct fascist party hat had ruled Hungary during World War II: "When the police shows up to deal with bank robbers in black uniforms, who talks about a fascist police in Hungary? Nobody! Now, it is possible that when they put together all these things, the effect in the end will be very bad, but it’s not my problem."

According to White House officials interviewed by CNN, Gorka has become too controversial for the administration and that is why he is being removed from his position, despite the administration's claims that his role was always intended to be temporary.

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Gorka's impending resignation is likely to come as another blow to anti-Islam conservatives who had viewed him and Bannon as key allies in trying to escalate American military efforts against jihadist organizations.

Update 1:08 p.m.: CBS reporter Jacqueline Alemany‏ cited a Trump administration source saying that Gorka has an interim security clearance and "may not be going anywhere."


Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Donald Trump Sebastian Gorka Steve Bannon

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