White House aide: Trump's moves don't embolden ISIS, Iran

white house official Sebastian Gorka the lead jake tapper _00010805
white house official Sebastian Gorka the lead jake tapper _00010805

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Story highlights

  • "Any document signed or executed in the United States makes no difference to ISIS," Sebastian Gorka says
  • He brushes off those who say Trump is emboldening ISIS

Washington (CNN)A top assistant to President Donald Trump dismissed concerns Wednesday that the administration's travel ban would embolden extremists overseas.

"Any document signed or executed in the United States makes no difference to ISIS," Sebastian Gorka told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead." "The idea that what we do here, that they're suddenly going to surrender or give up or recruit less, is absurd."
Since Trump signed the order temporarily banning the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, many have come out in opposition, including career diplomats and former national security heavyweights.
    Tapper asked Gorka, a former Brietbart editor, about this criticism, mentioning Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham's claims the order could be a propaganda tool for ISIS.
    Gorka shrugged off the idea, saying that kind of thinking came from an "echo chamber." He went on to cite a conversation he had with an Iraqi who he said was glad the United States was preventing "bad guys" in Iraq from reaching the United States.
    He also defended the rollout of Trump's travel ban, saying it went smoothly despite the widespread protests, numerous people detained or sent back overseas and reported confusion about the order within the government itself.
    With regard to the nuclear agreement with Iran, Gorka made it clear the White House top brass remained as skeptical as ever of the deal.
    During the campaign, Trump railed against the agreement to offer Iran sanctions relief in exchange for measures aimed at ensuring it stood down on nuclear weapons development. And retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a supporter now serving as national security adviser, made his disdain for the deal a mainstay of his public appearances.
    On Wednesday, Flynn said the United States was putting Iran "officially on notice" after a missile test, saying from the White House briefing room: "The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran's malign actions."
    Gorka said whether or not the administration pulled out of the deal, Iran would continue to act in opposition to the United States.
    "The idea that this would make a big difference hither or yon is fallacious," Gorka said.
    Gorka also offered some details about his role in the White House, as part of a group whose immediate function was not yet clear. A report from "The Daily Beast" referred to it as a "new node of power" for chief strategist Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Brietbart, and said it could challenge the National Security Council.
    Gorka described the group as a focal point for task forces collaborating with people outside government, offering a cybersecurity task force with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as one example.
    "We are charged with doing long-range initiatives of real import to the President," Gorka said. "We have a Strategic Initiatives Group to do things with private industry."
    He added the group's charge was "very different" from the National Security Council Principals Committee, of which Bannon is also a member per an executive action from Trump.