Katharine Gorka, one of the people President Trump appointed as a policy advisor to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), thought anti-fascists were more of a threat just before the deadly Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally.
According to emails HuffPost obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, Gorka (wife of alt-right radio host and former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka) wrote in July of 2017 — just weeks before the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted in three deaths and dozens of injuries — that the DHS would be better off focusing its resources on stopping anti-fascist groups.
Katharine Gorka wrote that email in the context of a conversation about the decision to cut off DHS funding for groups countering far-right extremism. One of those groups, Life After Hate (a group founded by former white supremacists aimed at encouraging other white supremacists to leave the movement) had its funding cut off after its founder called for President Trump to be removed from office and writing “fuck you, asshole” to Trump on Twitter. Gorka’s emails said the decision to cut off Life After Hate’s financial support was due to its “use of vulgarity and lack of professional maturity.”
According to HuffPost reporter Jessica Schulberg, then-DHS Secretary John Kelly asked for staff to come up with examples of groups that counter right-wing extremism as the agency was dealing with negative press coverage following the decision to stop supporting Life After Hate. Schulberg countered that instead of fighting hate groups, DHS should start working to counter anti-fascist groups. (emphasis ours)
“I really can’t think of any non-governmental groups out there doing that,” Katharine Gorka wrote. “It would also be important to get the data on actual threats right now because my understanding is that far-left groups (Antifa, or anti-fascist) are currently on the rise.”
After DHS cut funding to Life After Hate, there was a lot of negative press coverage. John Kelly asked DHS staff to come up with other examples of orgs that "counter hate-groups."
Gorka said she couldn't think of any—and that govt should be more focused on fighting antifascists pic.twitter.com/7ojcmfnWOL
— Jessica Schulberg (@jessicaschulb) April 5, 2019
As Grit Post previously reported, 98% of all domestic terror attacks in 2018 were committed by people with ties to right-wing extremist groups, according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League. While anti-fascists are often present at public gatherings of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, their protests are typically nonviolent aside from a handful of scuffles that attract disproportionate amounts of media coverage in relation to the activities of non-violent anti-fascists.
Katharine Gorka — who is still at DHS as of this writing — has not yet responded to an email from Grit Post requesting comment. This article will be updated in the event of a response.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.