Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on Friday accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of supporting al Qaeda in Syria.
Speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Gohmert blasted McCain for his opposition to the government shutdown, but said it shouldn’t be surprising because McCain has “supported al Qaeda” in Syria.
“When it comes to the shutdown that’s going on, I heard just before I came on, some senator from Arizona — a guy that liked [former Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi before he wanted to bomb him, a guy that liked [former Egyptian strongman Hosni] Mubarak before he wanted him out, a guy that’s been to Syria and supported al Qaeda and the rebels — but he was saying today the shutdown has been a fool’s errand, and I agree with him. The president and [Sen.] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] should not have shut this government down.”
Gohmert addressed the issue again during a Friday night speech on the House floor. "Some people have tried to take things I said in an inappropriate way," he said.
"I know that senator from Arizona. We owe him a great deal for what he endured on our behalf in North Vietnam. There's no question about it.
"And I know that senator would never intentionally hurt this country. But he's made mistakes that have hurt it, but certainly never intentionally."
A spokesman for McCain said the senator wouldn’t dignify the accusation with a response. In May, McCain traveled to Syria to meet with members of a U.S.-backed rebel group that has been under attack by al Qaeda in northern Syria.
This isn’t the first time Gohmert has accused McCain of conspiring with al Qaeda. In May, he said McCain and President Obama were partly responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, died in the attack.
“If it had not been for Sen. McCain and President Obama being for what we knew at the time included al Qaeda anti-rebel forces, then we would still have a U.S. ambassador and three others alive today, because Benghazi would not have happened,” Gohmert told conservative radio host Frank Gaffney.
“But by giving power to the rebel forces that included al Qaeda, you know, that brought that whole mess about and helped create problems in Tunisia and Algeria,” he continued. “So I’m not sure what to think about his going to Syria. If history’s any lesson, the people he met with who want us to help should be very careful about what Sen. McCain’s support could mean for them.”
McCain has been a vocal supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria, where a civil war has ravaged the country for more than two years. Those who oppose U.S. intervention say the U.S. shouldn't arm the rebel forces because it's impossible to know what their intentions are.