By Ramsey Cox - 07/19/12 12:14 AM EDT
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said claims made by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four other Republicans that Hillary Clinton’s top adviser is an infiltrator for the Muslim Brotherhood amount to “specious and degrading attacks.”
“When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it,” McCain said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
“These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit. And they need to stop now,” said McCain, one of the most respected voices on foreign policy in the Senate.
Abedin gained national attention during Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, when she served as the then-senator’s body woman — appearing behind Clinton in photos and being profiled in Vogue magazine. She returned to the spotlight again in June 2011, when Weiner became engulfed in a scandal about inappropriate photos he sent via the social networking site Twitter, which resulted in his resignation from Congress.
Abedin was born in Michigan but raised in Saudi Arabia. A Muslim, she began working in the White House as an intern in 1996 in the office of then-first lady Clinton. She has worked for Clinton ever since. She married Weiner in July 2010.
The GOP senator said he felt the need to defend Abedin because he considered her a friend.
“Over the past decade, I have had the pleasure of coming to know Huma during her long and dedicated service to Hillary Rodham Clinton, both in the United States Senate and now in the Department of State.” McCain said. “I am proud to know Huma, and to call her my friend.”
McCain recounted traveling with Abedin when she worked for then-Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.).
“I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand [Abedin’s] 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 have every confidence in Huma’s loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well.”
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) tweeted his disapproval of the letter.
“Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line,” he wrote on Twitter. “This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse.”
Bachmann defended the June 13 letter, saying it was being “distorted.”
“I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read [the letters] in their entirety,” Bachmann said. “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 groups’ access to top Obama administration officials.”
Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) also signed the letter, which was sent to inspectors general at the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
They did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
The letter said that Abedin’s position affords her access to Clinton, and that the State Department has “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“Her position affords her routine access to the secretary and to policymaking,” the letter stated.
The State Department did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
The GOP members wrote that a U.S. federal court has established that the Muslim Brotherhood’s — the party of Egypt’s ruling government — mission is “destroying the Western civilization from within” — a practice the organization calls “civilization jihad.”
“We believe that the apparent involvement of those with such ties raises serious security concerns that warrant your urgent action,” the letter continued.
The letter cited a document from the Center for Security Policy, a right-wing think tank, that said Abedin and her mother, brother and late father are “connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and organizations.”
The report from the center, titled “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,” includes unsubstantiated claims that Abedin is one of “six Islamist-sympathizers [to] have achieved positions within or advisory roles serving Team Obama.”
Earlier this month, Bachmann sent an additional letter to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, who had asked her about the allegations.
In it, according to Salon.com, Bachmann claimed that Abedin’s late father, Professor Syed Abedin, founded an organization that received the support of the former director of the Muslim World League, an international NGO that was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood from the 1970s through the 1990s.
McCain said there is little evidence to support Bachmann’s accusations.
“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,” McCain said. “It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.”