Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka believes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “credibility is lost and unrecoverable,” and that major changes at the White House over the summer have left the president feeling “isolated” in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill.
Gorka said Ryan (R-Wis.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) are living in a “fantasy illusion” and have failed on promises made to the American people, most notably on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
“I don’t think [Ryan and McConnell] are working against [Trump], but they’re definitely not working with him,” said Gorka, who left the White House on Friday, one week after the dismissal of his ally, White House strategist Stephen Bannon.
“They still live in this fantasy illusion that Nov. 8 was their victory as much as it was the president’s,” Gorka said in the phone interview “And they will pay a penalty for that mistake and belief.”
“Given that the president deliberately asked his colleagues on the Hill to bring relief to America from the disaster that is ObamaCare and that after eight years of promises, they failed. I would say Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s credibility is lost and unrecoverable,” he said.
McConnell’s and Ryan’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Gorka’s remarks.
The 46-year-old Gorka, like Bannon, came to the White House from Breitbart News, a site that has frequently criticized both congressional GOP leaders.
Bannon, referring to McConnell, has talked of how he’ll “light him up” upon his return to Breitbart.
The site has significant power on the right, and could be a troublesome presence for Ryan and McConnell as they seek to corral the votes to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government in September.
Gorka, after leaving the White House, told Breitbart’s Washington editor Matthew Boyle that he would be working with the Breitbart crew. But he told The Hill that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“I never said I was returning to Breitbart,” he said. “I’m in negotiations right now with other entities but will definitely be collaborating with Steve Bannon and the Breitbart team in the future.”
Gorka said Trump feels more isolated at the White House, and suggested he does not like all of the changes instituted by new chief of staff John Kelly, who has restricted access to the president as a means of bringing more discipline to the Oval Office.
“The president currently feels, to a certain extent, isolated,” Gorka said. “Individuals don’t have access to him as they did in the past.
“So we know [Chief of Staff] General Kelly wanted to impose a certain regimen on the system,” he said. “But there are aspects of the new regime that the president is not satisfied with, let me leave it at that.”
Gorka said the key to Kelly’s success in his new role will ultimately come down to chemistry and a “commitment to the president’s vision.”
“He’s definitely asserted control as one would expect from a military professional,” says Gorka. “The key unknown is whether his style will comport with the president’s expectations and own style.
“Look at White House history. Being an effective chief of staff is never just about efficiency. It’s far more about chemistry and commitment to the president’s vision.”
Though Gorka insists he resigned, the White House has disputed that characterization in a statement that explicitly said he had not resigned. Many see Kelly as having pushed out Gorka, who worked as a deputy assistant to Trump on national security issues.
Gorka said Bannon’s exit was a reason for his own departure. He insisted the final straw, however, was a speech the president gave on the administration’s new Afghanistan policy that didn’t include the words “radical Islam.”
Gorka, in a series of interviews, has said many in the White House are working against Trump and do not believe in his “Make America Great Again” agenda.
“There are individuals who don’t agree with the original agenda that we campaigned for,” Gorka said. “And as such, I can’t support that dilution of the original mission. But I can do a lot more on the outside to make sure the president’s original vision is implemented.”
Gorka, born in London to Hungarian parents, was best known during his tenure as a prominent defender of Trump during often-combative cable news interviews. He lacked the security clearances one would expect of a top adviser on national security.
Gorka, who once worked for Hungary’s government, came under scrutiny for his ties to far-right political groups in that country that have been accused of anti-Semitism.
“Nobody found one sentence that I have said that is anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli,” Gorka told an audience in New York this year attending the Jerusalem Post’s conference, according to a report in Haaretz.
“We are friends of Israel,” he said.
No fan of the media, he told The Hill that journalists “have no moral compass” and “zero self-awareness” on how the American people perceive them.
“Two things. Number one: The sheer number of people who call themselves journalists who have no moral compass, it’s stunning,” Gorka said. “I’ll put up with the slings and arrows, because my parents not only lived through fascism but communism, and they really suffered at the hands of totalitarians, my father especially. It’s worth it at the end of the day.
“But to have journalists impugn my dead mother, to have them attack my wife, and to have them attack last week my son as a high school student and call him a traitor. What person does that in a democracy and says they’re also a journalist?” he said.
An Aug. 18 story in “The Forward,” a New York-based website and magazine published for a Jewish-American audience, analyzed a high school project by Gorka’s son that attacked “the bottled water industry as a huge threat to the environment.”
“Is Sebastian Gorka’s son a liberal traitor?” asked the headline of the since-deleted story.
In an editor’s note after the story was taken down, the magazine said it “mistakenly published an article about the teenage son of Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to President Trump.”
“The story was posted without having gone through the necessary editorial processes and has been taken down from the Forward’s web site,” the note added.
“At the end of the day, I found myself often wanting to call these people up and say, ‘What is the source of your hatred? You know nothing about me,’ ” Gorka said. “I’ve never, ever said anything that is racist, anti-semetic, pro-fascist, and those are the labels you use against me.”
“The levels of hatred that the modern American media seems comfortable with is personally shocking. I don’t know how we recover from that,” he said. “The level of hatred and just the utter disconnect the Acela corridor [New York to Washington, D.C.] has with the rest of America, they look as if they have zero self-awareness.
“They have drawn zero correct conclusions about how wrong they got the election and how the American people have no respect for them based on their own behavior.”
No story has received more attention from the media since Trump took office than the possibility of campaign associates colluding with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign to defeat Hillary Clinton. Investigations on Capitol Hill are ongoing, as is one by special council Robert Mueller, a former FBI director.
Gorka said in his conversations with the president that the story “annoys him” only because he maintains there’s nothing there in terms of connections or collusion.
“In terms of something that preoccupies him, not at all. I think it just annoys him,” Gorka said. “I think the fact that something literally has zero substance, and he said that to me in the Oval [Office], it was just the two of us one day, and he said, ‘This Russia thing. They will never find anything.’ I trust this man when he tells me that behind closed doors, ‘There is nothing there.’ So it’s an annoyance because he knows there is nothing there.”
Former New York City Mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg pegged Trump’s chances of winning reelection at 55 percent earlier this summer, odds Gorka believes the president will exceed if he keeps three key campaign promises.
“The president ran on a simple three-pronged message: unleash the economy, defeat ISIS and build the wall,” he said. “Two of those are well on their way already. If he also makes significant progress with the wall, he will have a far better than 55 percent chance of reelection.”