In mid-July 2012, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) went to bat for top State Department official Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American, and aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, against claims by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and other lawmakers, including Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).
The lawmakers accused Abedin of being part of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy. McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor, according to The Huffington Post: “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.”
The allegations on Abedin possibly infiltrating the U.S. government arose from a report by the Center for Security Policy, an organization led by Frank Gaffney, who is against the rise of Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bachmann recently wrote letters to five federal agencies requesting investigations into infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood, citing Gaffney’s work. McCain did not indicate Bachmann or the other lawmakers by name, but criticized their letters and the Center for Security Policy report. According to The Huffington Post: “The letter alleges that three members of Huma’s family are ‘connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations,’” he said. “Never mind that one of those individuals, Huma’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.”
Abedin is married to former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner. According to The Huffington Post, McCain said he condemned Bachmann’s allegations to stand up for the character of America: “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.” According to The Huffington Post, Bachmann responded that her letters were being “distorted,” but she did not directly address McCain or mention Abedin: “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.”
Other lawmakers got into the discussions on Twitter, Fox News’ website, and other media. According to The Huffington Post, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) posted on Twitter: “Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse.”
The Center for Security Policy issued a statement in response to McCain’s comments, and invited Dr. Saleha Mahmood Abedin, Abedin’s mother, who is accused of supporting an organization that promotes shariah law, to “participate in a dialogue.”