Although Sebastian Gorka’s warrant on gun charges in Hungary is all over the news, I believe I can add some information about the former White House adviser’s past in Hungary. Earlier, I covered Gorka quite extensively, beginning in February 2017, shortly after he became deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, and following that up with several posts on various aspects of his case. But naturally, I couldn’t cover everything that I learned about him over the months I was researching our mystery man. Among the things I didn’t cover at all was Sebastian Gorka’s fascination with guns and his subsequent problems with the police in both the United States and Hungary.
In mid-January 2017 newspapers reported that the man Donald Trump was expected to appoint as his deputy assistant had been arrested on January 31, 2016 as he tried to board a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport in Arlington, Virginia with a weapon in his carry-on bag. Under Virginia law, carrying a weapon into an airport terminal is a class one misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. In addition, a weapon that is illegally transported into the airport terminal must be forfeited. Gorka pled guilty to the gun charge, and sentencing was scheduled for February 3, 2017.
The day of sentencing arrived, but Sebastian Gorka didn’t appear in person in the courthouse. His lawyer represented him. He told the presiding judge, who happened to be the chief judge of Arlington County’s Circuit Court in Virginia, William T. Newman, Jr., that “Dr. Gorka made a mistake. He started carrying a licensed, concealed weapon after he got death threats against his family. He regrets that mistake. Dr. Gorka wants to put this matter behind him and get back to the very important national security work he’s doing,” said the attorney. The judge obligingly dropped the charge under an agreement that resulted in no conviction as long as Gorka stayed out of trouble for six months and paid a nominal fine.
Gorka’s explanation for this unfortunate mishap, as reported by Breitbart News, was that he regularly goes to the shooting range. While hurrying to the airport, he grabbed the bag he normally takes to the range, which happened to have an unloaded 9mm gun in it. This explanation might have impressed the judge, but as we know from other sources Gorka carries a gun or perhaps even guns everywhere he goes. He had a long interview with Recoil, “the ultimate firearms destination for the gun lifestyle.” Gorka later tweeted that the write-up was the “best most accurate interview” he had ever had and added that he loved “watching Lib heads explode in response!” According to the Recoil interview, as described by Huffington Post, Gorka’s “everyday carry”—meaning the items persons carry with them—includes two pistols, two flashlights, a knife, a tourniquet and a copy of the U.S. Constitution.”
And that takes us back to Gorka’s encounter with the Hungarian police. 444, a Hungarian news internet site, reported this morning that the Hungarian police have had an active warrant out for Gorka’s arrest ever since September 17, 2016. It was filed in Budaörs, a prosperous small town adjacent to Budapest. The charge was “firearm abuse.”
The warrant was active, of course, during the seven months that Gorka was a member of the White House staff. And when Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó met and conferred with him at the opening of the Hungarian Embassy’s new building in Washington. I suspected that at that point that the Orbán government was hoping to use Gorka as a conduit between Donald Trump and Viktor Orbán, whose eagerness to meet the American president is legendary.
Following up on the Hungarian news, Buzzfeed tried to get in touch with Gorka, who told Hayes Brown, the publication’s world news editor, “Don’t waste your time. I don’t talk to Buzzfeed, thank you.”
The incident in Budaörs may have occurred in 2009; at least this is what the file number (1310/3894/2009.BÜ) indicates. But we know from various sources, including Sebastian Gorka himself, that he officially left Hungary in 2008. Of course, it is within the realm of possibility that for one reason or another he returned to Hungary and that the incident may have occurred at that time. In any case, Gorka didn’t confirm or deny the existence of the warrant, although he reasserted that 2008 was the date of his departure.
A year ago, when Sebastian Gorka’s name was all over the media because of his alleged affiliation with right-wing organizations in 2006 and even earlier, I received a private e-mail from one of my readers. He had information that Gorka, during a roadside encounter with a fellow driver, pulled a gun on him to give weight to his words. My reader didn’t want to share this piece of information in the comment section of Hungarian Spectrum because public disclosure would have revealed the identity of the informer. I have kept this intelligence to myself since. I assume that he was talking about the incident that prompted the warrant for Gorka’s arrest.
But why was this old warrant activated on September 17, 2016 when the incident happened in 2009? I have one possible explanation for this anomaly. While I was doing research on Gorka in the spring of 2016, I found an interview with him with Magyar Nemzet, published on September 10, 2016. Although the interview could have taken place by telephone, Skype, or e-mail, from the tone of the interview I assumed all along that it was a personal interview that took place in Budapest. My impression was reinforced by an American journalist who told me that, as far as he knew, Gorka made several trips to Hungary during 2016 and asked me to investigate. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything other than this one interview in September 2016. I must admit that I found it strange that Gorka, while already an adviser to Donald Trump, would be making a private trip to Budapest. And if one can believe Gorka, it was a private trip because during the interview he emphasized that he has no official contact with anyone from the Hungarian government. Considering that his relationship with Viktor Orbán was seriously strained prior to his departure for the United States, he was most likely telling the truth.
About a month ago I read on one of the Hungarian internet news sites that Sebastian Gorka’s book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War was just published in Hungarian by Patmos Records, which is the publishing house of Hit Gyülekezete (Assembly of Faith), whose fundamentalist leader Sándor Németh is a strong supporter of Israel and a fierce opponent of Islam and Muslim settlers in Europe. At that point, it dawned on me that Gorka’s visit to Budapest was most likely in connection with the Hungarian translation and subsequent publication of his book.
Gorka’s interview with Magyar Nemzet on September 10 and the refiling of Gorka’s old warrant on September 17 may well have been causally linked. There is the good possibility that the person on whom Gorka pulled a gun read the Magyar Nemzet interview and decided to inform the police of Gorka’s presence in the country. I assume, however, that by that time the future deputy assistant to the U.S. president was long gone.