U.S. President Donald Trump hired a renowned anti-Muslim activist to the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, team.
According to documents accessed by watchdog group American Oversight, as of April 7, Katharine Gorka's title is listed as an adviser to the department's policy office. The controversial national security analyst was also a member of Trump's transitional DHS team and a Breitbart News contributor.
David Lapan, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for media operations, confirmed that Gorka’s role in the policy office was permanent and did not require Senate confirmation.
The information, which details more than one Gorka appointment, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Gorka previously held a “temporary transitional” appointment in the chief of staff’s office, with a pay grade listed as GS-15 — the highest standard pay for a federal civil servant. GS-15 indicates a monthly salary of at least US$8,600. The position has now been categorized as expired.
Gorka was a vocal critic of the DHS under the previous administration. She chided the organization for teaching its employees that Islam is a religion of peace.
She is the wife of Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, who had come under fire for ties to far-right groups in Hungary. Sebastian is also the former national security editor for Breitbart News, an organization which has referred to profiling Muslims as “a synonym for common sense.”
Both husband and wife have accused mainstream Muslim civil rights organizations, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, of using “subversive tactics” and having ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a 2014 Breitbart News column, she defended five Republican members of Congress who, in 2012, had claimed that Muslim extremists infiltrated the federal government as well as accused Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In another article, Katharine also claimed that the New York Times “provided proof of Muslim Brotherhood influence” after it published a story on the lobbying influence of Persian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia – which, at the time, had banned Muslim Brotherhood activism and identified the group a terrorist organization.
The Department of Homeland Security has relied heavily on temporary appointments. So far, the Senate has only confirmed two positions — the department secretary and deputy secretary — leaving 14 senate-confirmable positions vacant.
These documents, obtained by American Oversight, list more than 25 employees with temporary, transitional appointments.