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March 16, 2017
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Update 2:42 p.m.: Gorka responded to Forward's report with a statement to Tablet: "I have never been a member of the Vitézi Rend. I have never taken an oath of loyalty to the Vitézi Rend. Since childhood, I have occasionally worn my father's medal and used the 'v.' initial to honor his struggle against totalitarianism."

Sebastian Gorka is President Trump's top terrorism adviser, but before coming to the United States from Hungary he allegedly took an oath of loyalty to an elite group that the State Department lists as having been "under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany," leaders of the order told the Forward.

The order, known as Vitézi Rend, collaborated with Hitler during World War II and deported thousands of Jews to the Nazis. While it is no longer known to commit violence, "this is a group that advocates racialist nativism," retired immigration judge Bruce Einhorn said. If Gorka actually did take an oath to the group, he would have been required to disclose it on his U.S. immigration application; he became a naturalized citizen in 2012, but members of Vitézi Rend are "'presumed to be inadmissible' to the country under the Immigration and Nationality Act," the Forward writes.

Suspicions about Gorka arose after Trump's inauguration, where he apparently wore a Vitézi Rend medal on his lapel; Gorka said it was his father's, and was intended to honor his legacy. Vitézi Rend leader Kornél Pintér claims Gorka took the oath to the organization, having been introduced by his father. Gyula Soltész, another high-ranking member, confirmed Gorka's allegiance to the group.

Gorka himself has used the name "Sebastian L. v. Gorka" in academic papers and even when testifying before the House Armed Services Committee. Vitézi Rend members identify themselves with the "v" initial only after having taken the oath.

Gorka has not responded to media requests for comment. "Gorka is part of an administration issuing travel bans against countries and people as a whole,” said Einhorn. "For someone who is part of this effort to not answer your question [about his membership] and yet support what's going on in the West Wing where he works is the height of hypocrisy."

Additionally, experts on terrorism have raised questions about Gorka's credentials for being Trump's adviser on the topic. "His doctoral dissertation has been dissected by various academics who say he is not an expert in their field, has never lived in a Muslim-majority country, does not speak Arabic, and has avoided publishing any serious, peer-reviewed academic research," the Forward writes. "Gorka's doctoral superviser in Hungary, András Lánczi, is an expert on political philosophy and Hungarian politics, but has never worked on terrorism, counter-terror, or Islam-related research." Read the entire report at the Forward. Jeva Lange

1:04 p.m. ET

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway made a combative appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday, leveling charges that the network "has been incredibly unfair and systematically against" President Trump because the outlet "made a business decision to do so."

"You said the company made a business decision to be unfair to the president," replied host Brian Stelter, "when in fact what we are trying to do is cover an unusual president and try to figure what the heck is going on in a White House that seems awfully dysfunctional."

Conway responded by again cheerily alleging the media is "unfair" and "incredibly disrespectful" to a "tough but humble" administration, "using words that are meant to deride and deny the president his due." "It's not our job to do your PR," Stelter shot back. "It's your job."

Watch two excerpts of the exchange below, including Conway's comments on the Friday resignation of outgoing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Bonnie Kristian

12:38 p.m. ET

Americans don't know what Democrats represent, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in an appearance on ABC's This Week Sunday, because of his party's failure of policy vision and messaging in 2016.

"When you lose an election with someone who has, say, 40 percent popularity, you look in the mirror and say, 'What did we do wrong?' And the number one thing that we did wrong is we didn't tell people what we stood for," Schumer told host George Stephanopoulos.

"We were too cautious. We were too namby-pamby," he continued, touting Democrats' forthcoming economic plan as "sharp, bold, and [appealing] to both the old Obama coalition, let's say the young lady who's just getting out of college, and the Democratic voters who deserted us for Trump, the blue-collar worker. Economics is our strength, and we are going to get at it."

The plan in question is called "A Better Deal," and it will be announced Monday at an event in Virginia. Schumer described the plan's three components as "higher wages, less costs [of living], tools for the 21st century." Watch a clip of his comments below, or read them in full via CBS. Bonnie Kristian

12:09 p.m. ET

New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci got punny Sunday explaining his plan for drastic changes to stem the deluge of leaks from the Trump White House.

Leakers are "gonna get fired," Scaramucci said on CBS' Face the Nation. "Tomorrow I'm going to have a staff meeting, and it's going to be a very binary thing," he continued. "If the leaks continue, we are as strong as our weakest link — and I'll say it a little differently, in a pun, we're as strong as our weakest leak." Scaramucci pledged not to "make any pre-judgments" about White House communications staff, but reiterated his willingness to fire people.

He offered a similar message on Fox News Sunday, promising "dramatic action to stop those leaks" in conversation with host Chris Wallace. "I think it's not fair to the president, it's actually not fair to America or the people in the government," Scaramucci said. "Something is going on in the White House that the president does not like and we're going to fix it."

Watch a clip of the CBS interview below. Bonnie Kristian

11:34 a.m. ET

President Trump supports the punitive congressional sanctions on Russia, said incoming White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been tapped to move up from a deputy role to replace Sean Spicer, in an ABC News interview Sunday.

"The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting the sanctions in place," she said. "The original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate, and the administration is happy with the ability to do that and make those changes that were necessary, and we support where the legislation is now."

The sanctions were negotiated Saturday and were expected to garner continued opposition from Trump. Watch an excerpt of Sanders' comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:34 a.m. ET

President Trump will not need to pardon himself, said new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci in an interview on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, so discussing the legality of a presidential self pardon is pointless.

"We haven't even really looked into that," Scaramucci told host Jake Tapper, though he conceded discussing the topic with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. "I'm not sure if [the president] has the right to pardon himself or not," Scaramucci continued, "but it doesn't matter anyway, because that's another one of those stupid hypotheticals. He's not going to have to pardon himself because he's done absolutely nothing wrong."

Sekulow, meanwhile, said in an ABC News appearance Sunday that "pardons have not been discussed" in the Trump White House. Trump tweeted about pardons Saturday, asserting his "complete power to pardon" in an update hot on the heels of a Washington Post report that the president is exploring whether he can use his broad constitutional pardon power on behalf of himself or members of his campaign or family.

Experts are split on the legality of a self pardon, which would be unprecedented in U.S. history, but generally agree it would be deeply inappropriate. Watch an excerpt of Scaramucci's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:16 a.m. ET
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A former primary challenger of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on him to step down from his post in multiple statements this past week following his announcement of a brain cancer diagnosis.

Kelli Ward unsuccessfully challenged McCain for his Senate seat in the 2016 Republican primaries and will challenge Arizona's other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, for his spot in 2018. "The medical reality of [McCain's] diagnosis is grim," she said in one statement, posted on her website, arguing "Arizona deserves to be represented by someone who can focus" on Senate work.

In a radio interview, Ward suggested herself as McCain's replacement. Bonnie Kristian

10:13 a.m. ET
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Israeli installation of metal detectors and CCTV cameras at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque — the disputed holy site venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif — has been met by mass protest by Palestinians whom Al Jazeera notes believe "the metal detectors may be the first move in the Israelis taking over the compound."

Weekend reports conflict over whether Israeli authorities may be willing to remove the metal detectors. Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai indicated to BBC News Sunday that option could be on the table, but only if another security measure takes the detectors' place. "Any solution be it electronic, cyber or modern technology: Israel is ready for a solution," he said. "We need a security solution; not political or religious."

The security measures were added after a July 14 attack in which two Israeli police officers were fatally shot by men who emerged from the compound armed. At least six people have been killed in violence during or in response to the protests. Bonnie Kristian

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