US president Trump sends advisor Sebastian Gorka packing from White House
Gorka’s role had come under the scanner of the new chief of staff, John Kelly, as he set about fixing a chaotic White House that has seen several people either quitting or being fired apart from committees resigning en masse.world Updated: Aug 26, 2017 21:40 IST
Sebastian Gorka, a controversial adviser to President Donald Trump known for his bombastic defence of the administration and who argued Islam was an inherently violent religion, has been ousted in yet another personnel shake-up at the White House.
His position in the administration had always been tenuous and his departure had been speculated about for months, but it had become imminent after the departure last week of his friend and principal ally in the White House, Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist.
Gorka’s role had come under the scanner of the new chief of staff, John Kelly, as he set about fixing a chaotic White House. Though he carried the designation of deputy adviser to Trump and described himself as a national security expert, he was not a member of the president’s national security team and didn’t have a clearly defined role at all.
Gorka joined a growing list of former Trump staffers, all senior level appointees, such as national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and two communications directors Michael Dubke and Anthony Scaramucci.
The Federalist, a conservative news publication, said Gorka had resigned and carried what it said was his resignation letter. But a White House official said, “Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House.”
Gorka wrote in the letter cited by The Federalist, “(G)iven recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA (Trump’s campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’) promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House. As a result, the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr President, is from outside the People’s House.”
He did not specify who he meant were part of the “ascendant” group, but he seemed to be implying the “globalists”, the faction opposed to the America First “nationalists”, who were led by Bannon and of which Gorka was a leading member. The rival group is understood to be made up of Trump’s daughter and son-in-law Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
“Regrettably,” Gorka continued, “outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months. This was made patently obvious as I read the text of your speech on Afghanistan this week…
“The fact that those who drafted and approved the speech removed any mention of radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism proves that a crucial element of your presidential campaign has been lost…”
Conservatives have used the phrase “radical Islam” or “radical Islamic terrorism” to set themselves apart from the Obama administration which had argued terrorists do not speak for all Muslims, and their acts must not tar the entire community, which, in effect, feels alienated as a result.
Gorka has long argued that Islam is at the root of terrorists who are Muslims, and not, as most experts agree, a combination of factors such as poverty, lack of education, bad governance, lack of opportunity, access to radicalisation. “This is the famous approach that says it is all so nuanced and complicated,” Gorka told The Washington Post in February. “This is what I completely jettison.”
He went on to say, “Anybody who downplays the role of religious ideology...they are deleting reality to fit their own world,” he said.
Gorka, who was born to Hungarian parents in Britain, was said to have had links to hard-right groups in Europe.
He joined the Trump campaign in 2015 and the administration in January 2017.
First Published: Aug 26, 2017 21:39 IST