Last year, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar traveled to London on a trip funded by which was funded by the Middle East Forum, a nonprofit organization founded by anti-Muslim activist Daniel Pipes. It was the first and only Congressional trip of its kind funded by the Middle East Forum.
When Gosar returned, he filed a travel report that included a Saturday night dinner with “members of the UK parliament” to “discuss the need to protect the right to free speech.”
It turns out that description was inaccurate. Instead of meeting with MPs, Gosar was dining with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and several far-right politicians from across Europe, including members of French, Belgian, and Swedish far-right parties, some of which have ties to Nazi collaborators, according to Sludge.
This revelation is the result of a new documentary, The Brink, which follows Bannon’s adventures in Europe in 2018. You can see a clip of the film featuring the dinner here.
Gosar’s report, which includes a “tentative itinerary” but was stamped by the House clerk two days after Gosar’s return, lists “personal time” from 10am to 8pm that day. Based on the information Sludge has, it does not appear possible that Gosar went to Bannon’s dinner and paid for his meal before heading to the alleged event with U.K. members of Parliament, which was scheduled to run from 8-9:30 pm according to the disclosure. Gosar stayed through the end of Bannon’s dinner, and The Brink director Alison Klayman sent Google chat messages just after the dinner ended that were timestamped at nearly 10:00 pm London time.
Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at the nonprofit group Public Citizen, told Sludge that Gosar could receive a public reprimand and be required to submit a new, accurate report if it’s found that his travel report was inaccurate.
But if it’s found that Gosar intentionally covered up his meeting with Bannon, thing could get a lot more serious.
“If Gosar deliberately filed a false report to Congress, this would constitute both a violation of House ethics rules and a violation of criminal statute under the Ethics in Government Act,” Holman told Sludge. “The House may impose a variety of penalties for violations of congressional rules, including reprimand, censure and even expulsion in the most extreme cases. At the same time, deliberately filing a false report to Congress is a violation of federal law, in which the U.S. Attorney’s office may seek a fine up to $11,000, five years imprisonment, or both.”
Gosar, and Middle East Forum’s Clifford Smith, who also attended the dinner, haven’t returned Sludge’s requests for comment.
Meeting with Bannon and far-right politicians isn’t the only thing Gosar got up to on his trip. He also spoke at a rally led by notorious Islamophobic activist Tommy Robinson, who has been banned by Facebook and Instagram and has had his channel restricted by YouTube. It was apparently after the rally that Bannon arranged the dinner.
“Bannon said he wanted to talk to those around the table about how, after Brexit and Trump, he saw an opportunity in Europe to have something like the [House] Freedom Caucus—of which Gosar is a member—in the European Union,” The Brink director Alison Klayman told Sludge.
“Gosar said grace for the gathered attendees and participated in the discussion mostly to talk about the U.S. and his own context,” Klayman told Sludge. “He mentioned that when he got back to the U.S. on Monday they would be impeaching Rod Rosenstein (which didn’t actually happen). Also, he said, ‘I was the guy that challenged [George] Soros in the United States.’”
In the past, Gosar has trafficked in conspiracy theories about Soros, whom he baselessly claimed funded the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and “turned in his own people to the Nazis” as a child in Hungary.
Nearly everyone present at the dinner, of which there is footage in The Brink, has disturbing histories of far-right actions and beliefs, and many support a white nationalist vision for Europe.
Read more about the dinner and the attendees over at Sludge.