BuzzFeed reports: Sebastian Gorka — national security aide and all-round Donald Trump attack dog — failed his way upwards to the White House, having been denied security clearance to work in the Hungarian parliament, defeated in a local mayoral race in the 2000s, and widely dismissed as an opportunist.
Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president who focuses on counterterrorism, was denied security clearance in 2002 to serve on a committee investigating the then-Hungarian prime minister’s past as a communist secret police official during Soviet times. That denial, local security officials and politicians told BuzzFeed News, effectively ended his career as a national security expert in Hungary.
Washington’s standards may be lower than Budapest’s. Gorka has been widely criticised for his lack of qualifications and connections with fringe political groups since joining the Trump administration. In the past few months, his ties with far-right Hungarian groups and past as an editor at Breitbart News have raised questions about both his ideological views and his judgment. But, back in Hungary in the 2000s, he wasn’t seen as an extremist, but instead a self-promoter, who exaggerated claims about his past, including his work for the British intelligence services.
“Sebastian Gorka is not a Nazi or a security threat because he is some sort of secret British agent,” said a member of the Hungarian counter intelligence service, who has reviewed the files a security background check on Gorka from 2002. “Gorka is, how do you say in English — a peddler of snake oil.”
The White House press office did not respond to several phone calls and emails seeking comment. BuzzFeed News made two calls to Gorka’s mobile and sent three text messages, none of which were answered.
Gorka’s rise offers a glimpse at how permeable the top strata of American power is in the age of Trump. [Continue reading…]