Former Trump advisor discusses the President's momentous first year in office at Restoration Weekend.
Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Sebastian Gorka at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2017 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 16th-19th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
Sebastian Gorka: That's far too kind, far too kind. Thank you so much. Thank you, David, thank you, Michael, for having me back this year. This is an amazing crowd, amazing speakers, but let me just reemphasize what you heard. The future of our mission is about organizations like Turning Point USA. So, it's absolutely vital that we take back education, academe from those people who would have you believe that socialism is a good thing, and that you gender is a matter of opinion. I'm here today to talk about my experience in the White House, and what I thought would be most interesting is to just give you a thumbnail on three issues and then open the floor to your questions about anything. So, first thing's first. I want to talk to you about who really is Donald J. Trump. What do you need to know about our new Commander in Chief? Secondly, what really happened inside the White House on January 21, and then what we should expect in the future, not only for our nation, but for the conservative movement. So, who is Donald J. Trump? Well, if you've had a pulse for the last 40 years, if you've been breathing, if you switched on a television or watched a certain reality show, or seen an individual come down some escalators, guess what? You know Donald Trump. Why? Because what you see in public life is what you get in private life. There is no two-faced filter. There's no, "I'm like this in public when I see a TV camera, and I'm like this in a different fashion behind closed doors."
In the swamp where I live, I'm sure those who have been there are very familiar with what I call the "Georgetown Phenomena." If you go to a fancy cocktail party, if you go to Adams Morgan amongst the muckamucks, you enter, and you start shaking somebody's hand to introduce yourself, and before you finish saying who you are, they are already looking over your shoulder to see, "Is there anybody else more important than you in the room?" That's the swamp. Likewise, when they see a television camera come in, it's like a switch gets flipped at the back of their head and on comes the Washington grimace. Where's Congressman Gohmert, where are you? You know what I'm talking about, right? The Washington grimace. None of that pertains to Donald J. Trump, and I'll give you an example.
I first met this man in the Summer of 2015 when I got a call from a guy called Corey Lewandowski. Never heard of him, and he said, "Would you like to come to New York to meet Mr. Trump? He's preparing for a Republican debate on national security, and he'd like some pointers." And I said sure. So, I few to New York, went to Trump Tower. By the way, any guesses in the Summer of '15 how many people were working on the campaign in Trump Tower? Have a rough guess. Three. That's why if you don't think November 8 was an act of God, you don't know what you're talking about. It truly was that the big man reached down and helped us. So, I went to Trump Tower, went up to the Donald's office, his private office. It was just the three of us, the future President sitting across from the desk, and Corey to my left, and behind closed doors, he was exactly as he is in public life. We had an amazing discussion ranging from issues through the Civil War to the Middle East and ISIS. And, he was so Donald Trumpian that halfway through the discussion, he just halts, stops the discussion, looks at Corey and goes, "Ha, I like this guy. Let's hire him." That's the whole Trump. That's how he was. Decisiveness.
What else do you need to know about this man? Why did I decide to work for him? I advised him on national security issues during the campaign and then I accepted the highest honor of being a strategist, deputy assistant to the president. That was a very easy decision. Why? Because within minutes of meeting this man, I knew three things about him. Number one, Donald J. Trump is kryptonite to political correctness. He hates it with a passion, and after 8 years of Obama, that was a very, very nice change. Secondly, in my field, counterterrorism, counter-jihadi issues, it was blatantly obvious to me within seconds of our discussing that threat that Donald J. Trump understands we are at war. Not only does he understand we are at war, he wants to win that war. As a result, I signed on, I advised him for that debate and for subsequent national security issues and then came on board the transition team working for General Flynn, and then eventually working for Steve Bannon in the White House.
What happened on November 8 and January 20? I want us to think about the reality of what happened last year. Who's a child of the Cold War? Anybody remember the Cold War in here? A couple of you. My parents fled Communist Hungary. My father was given a life sentence by the communists at the age of 20; spent 2 years in solitary, 2 years in a prison coal mine and was eventually liberated by the Freedom Fighters of 1956. So, I'm a Cold War baby. Do you remember one of the best movies from the Cold War? Red Dawn? John Milieus, the guy who gave us Dirty Harry, Conan the Barbarian. What was the story of the original Red Dawn? The Russians, the Soviets and the Cubans invade America. And who stops them? Patrick Swayze, right? A bunch of high school kids with bolt action rifles and pickup trucks stopped the behemoth that is or was the Soviet Union. The Wolverines, right? Well, guess what? That's what we did on November 8. A merry band of women and men, a small insurgency took down the establishment, Left and Right, let's not forget. Donald Trump was only accidentally the GOP presidential candidate. He had nothing to do with the GOP establishment, and he wiped the floor with 16 GOP establishment candidates, and then proceeded to do what? Defeat a woman who had spent $1.4 billion on a position she believed was owed to her because of her gender and because her last name was Clinton. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an insurgency. As a result, a few months later at 8:00 a.m., January 21, when I went to work after the inauguration, what was that day? It was the most heavily leveraged, hostile takeover in US political history. No, seriously. A few dozen guys who believed in the President moved into the west wing, to take over what? The biggest government in the world. If you add the armed forces, we have literally millions of employees in federal government, and then people like Steve and me arrived. On this point, I want to give you a little caveat. I'm going to go sidebar, off message for a second.
You heard Steve yesterday, and now you're hearing me. I'd like you all to relax, count to ten, and take a deep breath. I know lots of you were very, very disturbed when Steve resigned and lots of you were very disturbed when I resigned. But it's okay. We're still here, and in fact, we are much more able to support the President on the outside than we are on the inside. The Left celebrated. They had their champagne parties when Steve resigned. Oh, how silly they are. Steve Bannon, with his resignation, became the most powerful man in America outside of the Oval Office, and that's just a fact. So, the Make America Great Again agenda has nothing to do where my office is, or where Steve's office is. It doesn't even have to do with Donald Trump. It's about the principles of the founding of this republic and everybody in this room doing their part to make sure that we return to those principles.
So, what changed? You had lots of discussions about the election. What changed in the last 10 months? Very simply, one word: leadership. That's what changed. And it's remarkable that we are in the tenth month of an administration, not Year 5 or Year 8, the tenth month. Why? Let's just do a little, a little accounting of what has happened in just the last few months. We can break it into foreign issues and domestic. Foreign issues. What's the President achieved. Well, do you remember they said he hates NATO and that he wants to dissolve NATO? What did he do to NATO? He turned it around. After more than 30 years of the majority of NATO nations freeloading off us for their defense, what happened? In the east wing of the White House, the Secretary General of NATO said, "Two percent of GDP on defense? You got it." We've been trying to get seriousness out of our European allies for more than 20 years. The President got them to become serious in a matter of months.
What else? ISIS. Do you recall for 8 years we have been preached to that, "Oh, this jihadi" -- we couldn't say the word jihad, so "this terrorist thing" -- is a generational issue? Do you remember that? My children, your grandchildren are condemned to face this threat for generations. What happened? 12:01 January 20, new Commander in Chief, and within a matter of weeks, what happened? Mosul falls first, which is the birthplace of the new caliphate, and Raqqa, their operational headquarters. I thought this was a generational thing. I guess generations have shrunk in just a few months. To quote one special operator who was on details to the NSC, he came up to me about Month 2 of the administration, no apropos, I didn't know him from Adam, and he said, "Dr. Gorka, I have to tell you, you have no idea how morale has just skyrocketed among the armed forces because the President clearly trusts us and wants us to do the job we were trained to do." And then he said, "Oh by the way, when it comes to those jihadis, we're stacking them like cordwood." That’s leadership. The President went to the heart of the Muslim world. He gave a speech in front of more than 50 Arab Muslim heads of state where he said what? It wasn't platitudes. It wasn't diplomatic pabulum. He said you have to rid your mosques of the extremists. You have to get the terrorists out of your communities. And what happened? Eight days later, the Gulf Corporation counsel decides to do what? Take that attitude to Qatar. There's a lot of problems in the GCC, but Qatar is the biggest problem, and just 8 days later, they took action. I had an Arab woman from the region tell me the following. She said, "That speech is the speech we've been waiting for for 16 years." That's leadership.
So, revitalized European relations, crushing ISIS, rebuilding our relationships in Asia, amazing. I have to tweet out the photograph of President Obama getting off Air Force One in Beijing, out of the back entrance with no ladder, no red carpet, and then the comparison with President Trump. I mean, they may be Communists, but they understand who's in charge. They understand that there's a new sheriff in town. What about domestically? What's happened domestically? Well, the foreign policy successes are almost dwarfed by what's happened domestically. We are all victims surrounded by what my great, White House colleague Andrew Surabian called the "fake news industrial complex." Let's just put it to the side one second and just look at what's happened in 10 months. We now have the lowest unemployment in 17 years. Not 7 years, 17 years. We have two quarters of 3 percent GDP growth, when we were told that was impossible. Three percent GDP growth; 1 ½ million new jobs created. And how about this one, you've got to love General Kelly. When he was only in office at DHS for a few months, and we haven't even built the wall, and there was a 78 percent decrease in illegal migration. When you have a Marine in charge, that's what happens, a 78 percent decrease.
But, the last two are the most important. Everybody has a little bit of investments. You've got your 401k or what have you, a little bit of shares or stocks in something. What's happened to our stock market in 10 months? Can you imagine if you met somebody at a party who said, "I'm a financial investor. Let me help you out. Give me all your money. I'll invest it for you, and I'll get you a return of 20 percent." What would you do? You'd grab your wallet and run. Twenty percent? It's a joke. I mean, you put in a bank, you're not even going to get three points. What's happened in this country? Not a 20 percent, a 24 percent gross increase in the value in the American Stock Market. When we were told by noble laureates on the Left, do you remember? Noble laurates last year told us if Donald Trump wins, "The stock market will crash, and it will crash in such a way," this is the best part, "that it will likely never recover." And I'm not sure how that actually works, but anyway, never recover. Instead, 24 percent increase, and that's not just good for Goldman Sachs muckamucks. It's good for anybody. If you're a letter carrier for the post office, if you're a manual laborer, you've got a pension. Well, guess what? It's good for your pension as well.
The last one is the best of all, I heard this when I was in Dallas on Monday. This is the best of all. When we came into the White House, the President had a very simple rule. The government is out of control. Everything's overregulated. We will not issue one new regulation unless for each regulation, two are rescinded. Yes, the two-to-one proportion. Do you know where we stand today with that? Latest update, 16-to-1. For every new regulation, Donald Trump's administration has rescinded 16 prior regulations. That's unleashing this nation. So, that's the last 10 months. Those are very concrete, tactile, figure-based issues. Let's get a little bit more strategic, a little bit more spiritual. If you want to know where the administration is at and where it's heading, one of the most important things you can do is to read the speeches the President has delivered. The two most important ones are the Riyadh speech on terrorism, and even more important than that, the Warsaw speech. The Warsaw speech will go down in history as a pivotal moment. It's not an accident that we had the President give that speech right outside the location of the Warsaw Uprising. It wasn’t easy to get that location, but we wanted to send a message. In Riyadh the President pulled out the evil ideology of jihadism, and he made it very clear that this ideology is brethren to the ideologies we defeated in the Twentieth Century, fascism, Nazism and communism are all connected to jihadism. Why? Because they are all totalitarian. These enemies must be defeated, must be destroyed, otherwise, they will destroy us.
In Warsaw, the President was even more blunt. He asked a very simple question, and this is the question before all of us here, and this is really the purpose of David's work, his colleagues, Turning Point USA. He asked the following. Do we have the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would destroy it? When did we hear language like that last? It's been a long time, hasn't it? It's been a long time. But that's what it's about. It's about being unashamedly accepting of who we are, rejoicing in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and standing shoulder to shoulder with any nation that shares those values, be it Poland, be it Israel, whoever you are, we will stand by you. We're not interventionists, but we're not isolationists. It's about understanding what we have built and preserving it. So, that's the good news.
You know I'm a proud American now, but you know genetically I'm a Hungarian. I don't know if you know anything about Hungarians, but we're genetically pessimists. Can I give you the bad news? Here's the bad news. Just last week, we celebrated, not celebrated, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Communist Revolution that created the Soviet Union. For that commemoration, the Victims of Communism Foundation commissioned a poll, and this poll tells you why the work of the Freedom Center and everybody associated with it is probably more important than it ever was. Why? Because I don't think you would've seen these poll results during the height of the Cold War. Millennials only were polled, and of the Millennials polled, half of them said they would prefer to live under socialism. They were asked out of the list to identify the greatest heroes of the Twentieth Century. Are you ready? Twenty-six percent of American Millennials said that Che Guevara was the greatest hero of the Twentieth Century. A man who was in his own memoirs an avowed racist who hated blacks and who was himself a murderer is deemed to be the hero of the Twentieth Century. Most shocking of all, 13 percent of American Millennials stated that Stalin was the greatest hero of the Twentieth Century. So, where does that leave us? We must redouble our efforts, we must support the next generation, Charlie, his student action summit, all ventures that will help us claw back the next generation.
I was taught in my mother's milk, thanks to my parents' experience under fascism and then communism, one very simple thing, and it's how I open my book. "Liberty is as fragile as it is precious." And the great Ronald Regan was so very, very right when he said, all those years ago, the loss of liberty is but one generation away. So, let's be very serious about the future. Let's redouble our efforts, take nothing for granted, understand that academe is our primary problem, then the media, then technical issues such as tenure, but we must recapture our nation. And I'll end on this before I take your questions. The analogy for the President today is a very simple one. We were iced in. The sea had frozen over. Despite amazing, amazing feats such as those of Andrew Breitbart and others, we'd lost the cultural war. Political correctness had defeated us. We were having federal legislation on transgender bathrooms. I mean really, it's funny when you think about it, but then you realize this is George Orwell. This is George Orwell.
And then what happened? Along came a guy from Queens who was that icebreaker. He was that icebreaking ship that just plowed through the ice and caught a route through all of it. He didn't care. He didn't give a hoot what the New York Times said about him. He didn't care what CNN said. He reestablished one of the greatest traits of this nation, common sense. But now, the hard work begins, because he's cut the channel and now we are the flotilla. We have to make sure the ice doesn't come back. We have to educate everybody around us. We have to support initiatives that build the new icebreakers and new members of that flotilla, because we literally have two wheels off the edge of the cliff. Three wheels, let's make it three wheels. We had three wheels off the edge on November 7. Donald Trump brought it back, but now the real work begins. Thank you.
Audience Member: I am as big a fan of President Trump as you are, but I'm mystified at what happened to the Kurds. The abandonment of the Kurds by the United States government goes against the grain of everything President Trump would think about. So, what was the administration thinking about or not thinking about when it abandoned the Kurds?
Sebastian Gorka: Okay, so the Kurdish question is, of course, incredibly complicated. There's two major issues here. The Kurds have been in the region, if we take non-nation state actors, so I'm not talking about Israel or Jordan. The Kurds have been our best allies. They've shed blood. Kurds have died to kill Sunni jihadists. They've expended treasure. But the trouble is the referendum's timing was very bad. We need to destroy all of ISIS first before the Kurds formalize their status or discuss how they will formalize their status. The fact is, I'm not a government employee, so I can speak freely now. Go to Erbil. Erbil is a functioning country. They may not have an ambassador in the United Nations, but Kurdistan is a nation. It's autonomous, whether Turkey likes it or not. Go there, have a look at it. So, they should slow down, I know it's tough. We need to be a little bit more patient and wait until the job is done, and on top of it, there's a complicating issue. I've supported the Kurds. I've spoken on behalf of the Kurds in front of Congress. All the people making the decisions in theater for the State Department were the same people who were making the decisions for the Obama State Department. It's just a fact. Just a fact. Again, remember, the most leveraged hostile takeover in US political history, and the State Department is, believe it or not, 75,000 government employees. Have you ever tried to fire a government employee? So, patience, again, leadership must be applied, but I would ask our Kurdish brethren to just wait a little bit longer. Thank you. Great question. Who's got the microphone?
Audience Member: As you know sir, we have a great president in Trump. We have the control of the House majority, and we have the Senate as well. Yet, they were not able to get Obamacare repealed, and the tax bill is having a lot of trouble, I understand, which it may or may not pass in the Senate. My question to you is, will the people, remember if they can't get the tax bill passed, how do you think they're going to react in the next election for the Republicans?
Sebastian Gorka: It's really quite stunning that, it's one thing that the Democrats don't understand what happened on November 8, and it's really great that they don't, because they're actually doubling down on their politics, which is fabulous. I mean, what they're doing, yes, bring back Bernie, bring back, I mean, it's just great. Keep on doing what you do. But the fact that the Republican establishment still doesn't understand what happened on November 8 is a bigger problem. This is our 5-meter target, to make them understand what happened. And in historic context, it's really shameful. Imagine if you had a time machine that would allow you to look 230 years into the future. Imagine if they'd given that time machine to the Founding Fathers of America in 1776, and they'd shown Washington, or they'd shown Jefferson. Look into this View Finder, we're going to have American politicians that are independent, the nation will be independent, but they're going to go to Washington, and they're going to stay there for 32 years and become millionaires. What do you think the Founding Fathers would have done? They wouldn't have bothered with 1776, and you'd all talk like me today. It's outrageous. They represent us. It's not about building that sinecure and that lobbying job when they leave the Senate, or they leave Congress. We need more like Louie Gohmert, we need more like Trent Franks. That man there, we need more citizen politicians who are there for one reason, to represent our great nation. We need more future citizen politicians like Colonel Monetti. Stand up, Colonel. I'm supporting this man, former bomber pilot, war veteran. That's what we need, a man who's given how many years of service to the Air Force, Tony? Twenty-four years, and now he wants to serve again. Look him up. So, yes, this is the question. Do they realize that the noose is around their neck as well, and the American people will understand if they don't support the President politically, they will pay a price? Early to say. We shall see.
Audience Member: Hi, thank you. Thank you so much. So, you talked about how Donald Trump hates political correctness, and if you look at the forces that are enforcing politically correct terms, it's the communists and it's the Islamists who are in charge of a lot of these social media companies that have become very monopolistic. So, because conservative voices are being silenced on Twitter while Muslims like Linda Sarsour are allowed to call for jihad, do you think there will be a time that the Trump Administration will turn social media into a public utility to preserve free speech and combat these ideologies before they destroy us?
Sebastian Gorka: I'm always leery. I am a classic conservative. I'm not a neo-con. I'm not neo-liberal. I grew up under Maggie Thatcher. That's my hero. Maggie, the Gipper, the Blessed Saint John Paul. These are the true conservative idols for me. So, getting government involved in anything always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But you raise a good point, and Steve has raised it as well. There's a question of public service. The media is about making money, but at the end of the day, if you're not performing a public service, there are questions that must be asked. I lived on the wrong end of the smear campaign for 8 months, and I know it wasn't about me. I was just a proxy for the President and Steve. But to have people call themselves journalists, not only attacked me, I'm fair gain, but to attack my wife, to attack my teenage son, to attack the reputation of my dead mother. You don't have the right to call yourself a journalist and practice that kind of propaganda. So, these questions have rightly been raised by the president, and we need to hold them accountable. I'm not a big fan of getting government involved, but again, there's some market forces involved here.
Does anybody know, Anderson Cooper, the hero of CNN? Do you know how many people watch his show overnight? On a good night, 700,000 people. That's out of 320 million. On a good night, Sean and Tucker crush it, 4 million. Market forces. When you lie long enough, you lose credibility. So, we'll see about the public utility option. I prefer another one. Everybody, if you don't like it, look in the mirror and do something about it. Be like Charlie. This man is unstoppable. I don't think you sleep. I think his Twitter account is plugged into his head. Push back. If you don't have Twitter, why don't you? I don't care how old you are. Get it. Push back on the lies. Just push back. The idea that we have journalists who say the President is an anti-Semite or Steve's a racist. This man has Jewish grandchildren. Can we just get a grip on reality? You're not a victim of Twitter. Twitter doesn't control you. Go on to gab. Push back. Create your own blog. Do what David has done as a pioneer. He doesn’t rely upon the media giants. Everybody. Don't get preachy. Don't get on a soapbox, but whether it's a July 4th barbeque with your neighbors, whether it's around the water cooler at work, push back on the lies, all of you, please. And on that note, God bless.