U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) (C), John Cornyn (R-TX) (L) and Roger Wicker (R-MI) hold a news conference to discuss â€œThe Obama Administrationâ€™s national security leaksâ€ in the Capitol in Washington June 26, 2012.
WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) vigorously defended top State Department official Huma Abedin against allegations by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and other conservatives that this Muslim-American woman is part of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. government.
â€œThese 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,â€ said McCain in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday morning.
The accusations stem from a report by the Center for Security Policy. The organization is run by Frank Gaffney, who has been crusading against the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia law for years.
Bachmann, along with Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), recently sent letters to five federal agencies demanding investigations into infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood, citing Gaffneyâ€™s work.
McCain never mentioned Bachmann or the other lawmakers by name but pointedly criticized their letters and the report, noting he had worked with the Center for Security Policy in the past.
â€œThe letter alleges that three members of Humaâ€™s family are â€˜connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations,â€™â€ he said. â€œNever mind that one of those individuals, Humaâ€™s father, passed away two decades ago. The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government.â€
â€œThese attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit,â€ McCain added. â€œAnd they need to stop now.â€
Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is married to former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is Jewish.
McCain said that he traveled overseas with Clinton and Abedin when Clinton was a senator.
â€œI have every confidence in Humaâ€™s loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well,â€ he said. â€œAll Americans owe Huma a debt of gratitude for her many years of superior public service. 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.â€
But the larger purpose of condemning the Bachmann allegation, said McCain, is standing up for the character of America.
â€œUltimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person,â€ he added. â€œThis is about who we are as a nation, and who we still aspire to be … 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.â€
Bachmannâ€™s office did not return a request for comment.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who was the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, has also condemned the allegations against Abedin.
â€œI think it just is the worst of guilt by association,â€ Ellison told CNNâ€™s Anderson Cooper. â€œI think itâ€™s really reprehensible and I do hope that people stand up to it.â€
UPDATE: 1:29 p.m. — Ellison also sent Bachmann a letter on Wednesday, saying he still did not find any evidence supporting her Muslim Brotherhood claims even after she responded to his July 12 letter to her asking for more information about her allegations.
â€œA careful review of your 16-page response reveals that you fail to provide any credible evidence for your claims, engage in guilt by association, and continue to rely on discredited sources,â€ he wrote.