During a speech today at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace marking the release of a report about religious freedom around the world, Secretary of State HIllary Clinton took a moment to deal with religious freedom a little closer to home. Specifically, she touched obliquely on accusations made about a top staffer in her office by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
In a letter to the State Department demanding an investigation into alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration, Bachmann suggested Clinton aide Huma Abedin is tied to Muslim Bortherhood and exercising influence on what Bachmann said were “actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
In a thinly veiled reference, Clinton lauded those Republicans who stood up to Bachmann’s bogus and Islamophobic allegations:
Leaders have to be active in stepping in and sending messages about protecting the diversity within their countries. … We did see some of that in our own country. We saw Republicans stepping up and standing up against the kind of assaults that really have no place in our politics.
Watch the clip:
Among those Republicans were Sen. John McCain (AZ), Sen. Scott Brown (MA), Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), House Speaker John Boehner (OH) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI). The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (MI) went from supporting Bachmann, who sits on his committee, to disavowing her witch-hunt. Sensenbrenner, in particular, called out Bachmann’s Islamophobic allegations as “wrong ” and an affront on religious liberty:
Religion is a personal issue to every one of the people who lives in the United States, whether you practice a faith, how you practice a faith, whether you don’t practice a faith, whether you say you’re a member of a faith but don’t practice it, it’s none of the government’s business. And this is the whole issue of religious freedom.
However, some Republicans have come out and supported Bachmann’s allegations. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also defended Bachmann’s charges. An adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, John Bolton, voiced support for Bachmann’s allegations on a radio show hosted by the progenitor of her conspiracy theories, notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney. Former presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who also acts a as a surrogate for Romney, defended Bachmann, too, even writing a long Politico opinion piece today.