On the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) repudiated Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) McCarthyesque witch-hunt to root out the alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government. The flap started when Bachmann all but directly accused Secretary Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin of working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in a letter with four colleagues to the State Department’s Inspector General demanding an investigation.
While some Democrats have taken Bachmann to task for the charges, some Republicans, like House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (MI), lauded her witch-hunt.
Enter McCain, who put his foot down today and chided his fellow Republicans for the accusations against Abedin. McCain brought up his personal relationship with Abedin, adding that she “represents what is best about America.” He noted Bachmann’s letter and its sourcing to a report from notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney‘s Center for Security Policy (CSP). He then said:
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. 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.
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Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) lead the charge against Bachmann, demanding “credible, substantial evidence” to back up her accusations. Bachmann then penned a long letter responding to Ellison, which he rightly dismissed as “16 pages worth of repeated false allegations. Just regurgitated nonsense.”
But Bachmann’s response to Ellison did adjust her sources. While many of the 59 footnotes are still dubious — such as those linking to the Islamophobe Steve Emerson’s group, the Investigative Project — she dropped the sole source cited in her initial letter to the State Department: Gaffney‘s CSP. In his request for information, Ellison had noted that Gaffney — a sometime Bachmann adviser and booster — had been “widely discredited.” McCain, who said he had worked with CSP and considers Gaffney a “friend” nonetheless called the accusations in the report “scurrilous.”
Bachmann responds in a statement on her website: “The letters my colleagues and I sent on June 13 to the Inspectors General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Department of State – and the follow up letter I wrote to Rep. Ellison on July 13 – are unfortunately being distorted.”