Yesterday, Sebastian Gorka filed a complaint against the January 6 Select Committee to block it subpoenaing his phone records from Verizon.
Well, we think he filed a complaint. The document has no caption, so we’re taking an educated guess here. But it’s docketed as a complaint, and it’s got long passages ripped verbatim from the other suits against the Committee, so it seems like a safe bet.
“Doctor” Gorka, a former Breitbart correspondent, worked briefly in the Trump White House as a foreign policy adviser, despite his documented ties to far right nationalists in Hungary and his inability to get a security clearance.
No one was entirely sure what he did, with one source telling the Washington Examiner that his chief responsibilities were “giving White House tours and peeling out in his Mustang.”
Gorka was known primarily for going on television to defend the administration and attack Democrats in the most bellicose terms. Like warning the crowd at CPAC that “They want to take your pickup truck. They want to rebuild your home. They want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.”
So it is more than a little ironic that he opens his complaint by accusing the Committee of fomenting social division: “The toxic forces rending this country apart will only be strengthened, and the goal of more tranquil times will be more elusive, if any party holding a majority of seats in the House of Representatives can hunt down and persecute citizens, including journalists, because of their political sympathies and speech in an effort to silence that speech.”
In fact, the incendiary radio host is not being hunted down and persecuted. The Committee has merely subpoenaed Verizon for his cellphone metadata, i.e. not the content of any of his communications. And indeed, Gorka himself admits that he was involved in the events leading up to the invasion of the Capitol, which he describes as “a large group of people in Washington, D.C., entered the U.S. Capitol, breached security, and disrupted the counting of Electoral College votes until order was restored.”
In his own pleading, Gorka claims that he was “invited to speak at an event at the Supreme Court that day, his speech was cancelled, and therefore, he only observed the speeches at the Ellipse as one spectator among many and left.” So he was at a minimum involved in the planning of the rally, broadly supportive of the aim of overturning the result of the election, and privy to the reaction of rally organizers as they canceled the scheduled speeches on the steps of the Supreme Court.
Gorka joins a motley crew of plaintiffs, including Michael Flynn, Mark Meadows, John Eastman, and Alex Jones in suing the Committee. His complaint is pretty standard fare for these goobers, alleging that the Committee lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, that it is engaged in prohibited law enforcement activity, that it cannot issue a valid subpoena because it lacks a ranking member appointed by House Republicans, that the Committee is engaged in a “politically motivated fishing expedition.”
He also engages in the now-standard obfuscatory handwaving over whether the Committee is seeking the actual content of his communications. (It is not.)
The only surprising thing is that the complaint uses both upper and lower case letters — Gorka’s trademark SHOUTING seems to have been toned down for the purposes of the US District Court in DC. Perhaps this is intended to bolster his claim to be “a member of the political press editorializing current affairs” and thus entitled to First Amendment protection, instead of a guy who screams at reporters and is known for illegally parking his Sun Tzu Mustang all over DC.
Gorka wants the court to declare the Committee’s subpoenas on Verizon null and void. He’d also like a temporary restraining order, or possibly a preliminary injunction on Verizon, although he has not yet filed a separate motion requesting that on an emergency basis.
Very art, much war.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.