Ex-White House staffer Sebastian Gorka.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Sebastian Gorka, a senior staffer at the White House until last week, came to the defense on Sunday of H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser who last month endured a far-right campaign against him over his posture toward Israel.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Gorka said he had not once heard H.R. McMaster speak critically of the state in his six months since taking office.
“I’m not here to feed stories of palace intrigue – I hate that, and I’m still loyal to the president and his agenda,” Gorka said. But “I have never heard Gen. McMaster say things that are anti-Israeli. I’ve never heard that.”
Gorka did, however, offer harsh criticism of McMaster’s stance toward Islamists, speaking of the violent extremism as a problem inherent to Islam itself.
McMaster “sees the threat of Islam through an Obama administration lens, meaning that religion has nothing to do with the war we are in,” Gorka said. “He believes – and he told me in his office – that all of these people are just criminals. That is simply wrong.”
Gorka was the subject of a series of news reports early in his tenure in the administration over his ties to Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian political party with historic ties to Nazi Germany.
He said the subject never came up “openly” among White House staff.
“The attacks against me never came up openly inside the building,” he said.
“The only time they would come up is when Jared [Kushner] would joke about them. He would always joke about the latest absurd accusation to be made. But it’s possible they came up privately.”
Gorka left the White House on Friday as an embattled adviser. He insists he offered his resignation willingly, but an anonymous White House official claims otherwise.
Originally brought into the Trump administration by Steve Bannon of Breitbart News – who until two weeks ago served as the president’s chief strategist – Gorka said he saw a “limited future” in a White House without Bannon around, and decided on his own to depart.
“He was the person that I reported to directly,” he said. “It had become clear to me with the pro-Trump individuals at NSC being fired, and being squeezed out of the policy- making process, that I too had a limited future in the White House as a strategist to the president.”
Gorka’s role was scrutinized in recent weeks by the president’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, who upon assuming his role sought to impose structure on a fluid West Wing staff.
Gorka says he was not part of the president’s response strategy to a white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, which shook the nation, nor was it a factor in his departure.
But those who organized the rally don’t represent Trump’s movement to Make America Great Again, he asserted.
“You don’t make the views of a rabid extremist minority,” he said.
“You don’t allow your policies to become hostage to an extremist minority that is racist.”