WASHINGTON — Sebastian Gorka, the British-born deputy assistant to President Trump whose unsmiling, dark-bearded visage and plummy English accent made frequent appearances on political talk shows, left his post late Friday. The conservative website the Federalist reported on Friday that Gorka resigned with a scathing letter accusing “forces” in the White House of working against Trump’s agenda. However, a White House official told Yahoo News that Gorka did not leave of his own accord.
“Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House,” the official said.
According to the Washington Examiner’s Sarah Westwood, Gorka said it was “disappointing” that the White House said he was fired, because “I resigned.”
A source with knowledge of the situation said Gorka did indeed resign — but only after being informed on Friday by White House chief of staff John Kelly that his security clearance had been revoked, which would have made it impossible for him to continue in his White House job. Gorka was on vacation at the time and due to return on Monday. Instead, after hearing from Kelly, he submitted his resignation.
Gorka, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News, was a controversial and curious figure in the White House. He styled himself as “Dr.” Sebastian Gorka (he had a doctorate in political science from a Hungarian university) and described himself as a national security expert and intelligence analyst. However, experts in the field questioned his credentials. Gorka frequently appeared on television to defend the Trump administration, but his actual responsibilities within the West Wing were unclear. He had ties to anti-Semitic groups in Hungary, from which his parents had fled after the failed 1956 uprising against the Soviet-backed regime.
Gorka’s departure comes during a turbulent period for the White House that has seen several top staffers leave, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Many of the changes have come after John Kelly, a former Marine general, was installed as White House chief of staff last month. Kelly, who was previously Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, has been tasked with instilling order in the administration. The ex-general reportedly immediately focused on Bannon as a source of internal disputes and leaks.
Bannon was widely seen as Gorka’s patron. Prior to joining the White House, Gorka worked as an editor at Bannon’s Breitbart News. Gorka’s affiliation with the site and his inflammatory commentaries about Muslims earned him a reputation as an “alt-right” voice in Trump’s White House. In the wake of his departure, Bannon returned to Breitbart, where he hopes to take on the administration’s enemies and guide Trump’s agenda from the outside. Gorka’s alleged resignation letter published by the Federalist expressed a similar desire.
“It is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA promise are — for now — ascendant within the White House,” Gorka wrote. “As a result, the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr. President, is from outside the People’s House.”
As news of his departure broke, Gorka edited the biography on his Twitter page to remove his White House affiliation. He also changed his picture on the site from one that showed him with Trump’s son, Eric, to a shot of him standing alone with a taut grin.
“#NewProfilePic,” Gorka wrote.
Update, Aug. 25, 2017, 11:19 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details of Gorka’s departure.
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