Close Bannon ally and fiery Trump spokesman quits

Mr Sebastian Gorka was a deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump.
Mr Sebastian Gorka was a deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump.

WASHINGTON • Mr Sebastian Gorka, a controversial White House staff member who served as a fiery spokesman for President Donald Trump on national security matters, has abruptly left the administration as his nationalist faction was being silenced, four people briefed on the exit confirmed.

Mr Gorka, a deputy assistant to the US President, is a close ally of former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who departed the White House last week. Together they saw their roles as enabling and promoting the President's combative populism and revolutionary impulses.

Although Mr Trump enjoyed watching Mr Gorka's cable television appearances, in which he performed like a pit bull and taunted many news anchors for peddling what he and the President deemed "fake news", he had run afoul of many of his colleagues, including some on the United States National Security Council who considered him a fringe figure.

Officials said it was widely known that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who has been restructuring the West Wing to stem infighting and chaos within the staff, was eager for Mr Gorka to depart the administration.

Born in England to Hungarian parents, Mr Gorka, 46, is known for his hardline stands on Islam and his past involvement in right-wing Hungarian politics.

While Mr Gorka publicly released a resignation letter expressing his displeasure with the changes that he felt left his faction silenced, two White House officials insisted he did not resign but rather was forced out.

His departure spells the end of the Bannon era in the White House.

The Federalist, a conservative website, published what it says was Mr Gorka's resignation letter to Mr Trump. Someone close to Mr Gorka confirmed the letter's authenticity to The Washington Post.

In it, Mr Gorka writes that "it is clear to me that forces that do not support the (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 wrote.

Meanwhile Mr Gary Cohn, a prominent Jewish member of Mr Trump's administration, seriously considered resigning and even drafted a letter of resignation after the deadly violence over a rally led by white nationalists, according to two people familiar with the draft. Mr Trump had incurred anger after he defended the white nationalists.

In an interview last Thursday with the Financial Times, Mr Cohn said: "Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Close Bannon ally and fiery Trump spokesman quits'. Print Edition | Subscribe