WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John McCain ripped Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann on Wednesday for suggesting an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is working with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bachmann and a group of four conservative House Republicans sent a letter in June to the inspector general of the State Department urging an investigation into Huma Abedin’s connections to the Islamist political organization, alleging she shouldn’t have been given security clearance because of former business dealings involving her late father, citing a study by the Center for Security Policy.
Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, a Muslim, told Anderson Cooper Tuesday the evidence is “repeated false allegations, just regurgitated nonsense.”
In a blistering Wednesday speech on the Senate floor, McCain, a Republican, didn’t mention Bachmann by name, but called her accusations “attacks” and said they “have no logic, no basis and no merit. And they need to stop now.”
“To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it,” he said. “It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: These allegations about Huma Abedin, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.”
Abedin is a top aide to Clinton and the wife of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner. McCain said he came to know her during a trip he took with Clinton when she served in the Senate.
“I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand her hard work and dedicated service on behalf of the former Senator from New York — a service that continues to this day at the Department of State, and bears with it significant personal sacrifice for Huma,” McCain said.
“I hope these ugly and unfortunate attacks on her can be immediately brought to an end and put behind us before any further damage is done to a woman, an American, of genuine patriotism and love of country.”
Bachmann delined to comment on McCain’s speech during floor votes Wednesday afternoon. In a statement, she sidestepped both the speech and the specific Abedin accusations, instead saying that the original letters regarding the Muslim Brotherhood are “unfortunately being distorted.”
“The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group’s access to top Obama administration officials,” she said.
Bachmann cited the recent White House visit of a self-professed member of an Egyptian terrorist group as the “latest example of the dangerous national security decisions made by the Obama administration.
“I will not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces,” she said.
Bachmann, along with Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., wrote to the inspectors general of five government agencies in June asking them to investigate the reach of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government.
Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, asked Bachmann for a more thorough breakdown of the accusations. Bachmann responded with a 16-page letter on Friday, which included her suspicion of Abedin.
Bachmann wrote that Abedin’s long-dead father had founded a Saudi Arabia-based group called the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs that “had the quiet but active support” of the Muslim World League, which “has a longtime history of being closely aligned and partnering with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
In a Wednesday letter back to Bachmann, Ellison called the connection “guilt by association.”
“The primary source of evidence for your serious claims against Ms. Abedin is that her deceased father founded an institute that received unspecified ‘support’ from a man who at one point led an organization that was aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood,” he wrote. “In making this connection, which is five times removed from Ms. Abedin, you engage in guilt by association.”
Hillary Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Bachmann’s accusations “nothing but vicious and disgusting lies, and anyone who traffics in them should be ashamed of themselves.
“I would hope that hearing the remarkable statement from someone of Sen. McCain’s stature gives her pause in doing so any further.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org