On Monday, President Trump’s deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka participated in a panel discussion at Georgetown University entitled “News, Alternative Facts, and Propaganda: The Role of Cyber in Influence Operations.” Gorka—one of the first senior members of the Trump team to speak at Georgetown—left the discussion after calling protesters “victims of fake news.”
Members of the Jewish Student Association protested the event, citing Gorka’s alleged ties to Hungarian far-right group Vitez Rend. During World War II, the group was actively involved with Hungary’s Nazi-sympathizing government. At Monday’s event, students held signs with messages including “Gorka’s Gotta Go” and “A Neo-Nazi Shouldn’t Be an Invited Speaker.”
Gorka has categorically denied any involvement with the group. According to Gorka, he wore a medal typically worn by members of Vitez Rend in honor of his father’s legacy. He notes that the medal represents his father’s stand against the totalitarian government.
Protesters remained quiet throughout the event and waited until the question period to address Gorka’s involvement with the group. Georgetown students questioned Gorka about his credentials, role at the White House, and his alleged ties to neo-Nazism. After answering a few questions, Gorka argued that the whole protest was part of a greater “propaganda campaign” against him.
“Every young person holding a placard to protest my parents and myself — I challenge you now: go away and look at everything I have said and written in the last 46 years of my life and find one sentence that is anti-Semitic,” Gorka said. “You won’t find one.”
After calling the protesters “victims of fake news,” Gorka exited the event through a side door.
The ordeal was captured on video and posted to Twitter.
On Tuesday, SFS Dean Joel Hellman addressed the event and students’ “non-disruptive demonstration” in an email to SFS students and faculty.
“Yesterday, our students demonstrated such behavior by respectfully listening to the speakers and asking challenging questions in a spirit of debate, all while expressing their concerns through peaceful and non-disruptive demonstration,” he wrote.
Dean Hellman also noted that certain members of the Georgetown community were targeted on social media for participating in the protest.
Sebastian Gorka declined a request for comment.