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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Senior Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka leaves the White House 

While rumours on his eventual resignation have been circulating since last April, his criticism of secretary of state Rex Tillerson may have hastened the process

Adviser Sebastian Gorka (L), one of US president Donald Trump's most outspoken defenders, left the White House late on Friday. Here he is waiting for Mr Trump to arrive to board Air Force One on July 25, 207. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Adviser Sebastian Gorka (L), one of US president Donald Trump's most outspoken defenders, left the White House late on Friday. Here he is waiting for Mr Trump to arrive to board Air Force One on July 25, 207. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

One of Donald Trump’s most outspoken defenders, Sebastian Gorka, was pushed out of his position as counterterrorism adviser late on Friday, joining a long list of ousted officials since retired Gen John Kelly became chief of staff last month.

"Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he is no longer with the White House,” a US official said, indicating that the former national security aide was fired. But other reports indicate that Mr Gorka submitted his resignation to Mr Kelly after realising that he will not be assigned a “meaningful role going forward”. Mr Gorka is mostly known for his regular appearances on US airwaves fiercely promoting the US president.

Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State University and a critic of Mr Gorka since his appointment in January, was not surprised by his dismissal.

“Following [former chief strategist Steve] Bannon’s departure last week, there was no reason to keep him if Gen Kelly was cleaning house,” she told The National. Mr Bannon and Mr Gorka worked together at the conservative Breitbart News website prior to joining the Trump campaign and shared common dire views on Islam and terrorism.

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However, according to Ms Bloom, Mr Gorka’s departure will unlikely have much effect on policy.

“He did not have a security clearance and was literally only there as the president's bulldog for Fox News and other media interviews,” she said.

Instigating a fight with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in Mr Gorka’s case. While rumours on his eventual resignation have been circulating since last April, his criticism of Mr Tillerson may have hastened the process.

Last week and while commenting on the situation with North Korea, Mr Gorka told the BBC: “You should listen to the president; the idea that secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical.”

Mr Gorka’s short seven-month tenure at the White House was marred with controversy. The Jewish monthly magazine, Forward, accused him of having ties to a far right Hungarian group allied with the Nazis. Others, who studied counterterrorism, “saw him as a phoney”, said Ms Bloom.

[Mr Gorka’s] reputation is shot; even Steve Sloan, his adviser, admitted he wasn't actually an expert,” she said.

Still, the former aide has a fan base among Mr Trump’s supporters and those on the far right.

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Mr Gorka follows a long list of officials who left or were fired from their position since Gen Kelly took office late July. Those include Derek Harvey, Rich Higgins and Ezra Cohen-Watnick at the National Security Council. At the White House, Anthony Scaramucci, who served as director of communications, and Mr Bannon were also dismissed this month.

Analysts see the changes as enforcing Gen Kelly’s hand in the White House and helping National Security Adviser HR McMaster in his bid to structure a more coherent and less ideological team.