Boehner told reporters that he hadn’t read letters from five Republican lawmakers detailing the allegations against Abedin and her family’s alleged ties to the Islamic group. She is a senior aide and deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“I don’t know Huma. But from everything that I do know of her, she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous,” Boehner said.
Abedin is the long-time aide to Clinton who has worked for the former first lady and U.S. senator for almost two decades. Abedin is married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).
Five Republican lawmakers — Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) — sent letters sent last month to the inspectors general at the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State asking that they probe whether the Muslim Brotherhood has had undue influence over U.S. government officials.
A letter to the State Department inspector general said Abedin “has three family members — her late father, mother and her brother — connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the secretary and to policymaking.”
The issue earned wider attention Wednesday when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) gave an impassioned defense of Abedin during a Senate floor speech. He called the accusations “sinister” and “nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.”
On Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an emerging GOP voice on foreign affairs, also said he didn’t agree with the accusations made by his colleagues.
During an interview on WAMU’s “Diane Rehm Show,” Rubio said he hasn’t met Abedin, but has heard that she is “a professional and hardworking and patriotic American who loves her country and in the service of her country is serving it.”
“Obviously, every member of Congress has a right to express their opinion and every member of Congress is held accountable for their opinion, if they’re right or if they’re wrong,” Rubio said.
Bachmann defended her inquiry Wednesday and said her comments were misinterpreted by McCain. In a statement, Rooney said Wednesday that he regretted “that Mrs. Abedin has become the media focus of this story, because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk.”
Spokespeople for Franks, Gohmert and Westmoreland were either unreachable or once again didn’t return requests for comment Thursday.
At the State Department, Clinton senior adviser Philippe Reines called the accusations made by the lawmakers “nothing but vicious and disgusting lies, and anyone who traffics in them should be ashamed of themselves. I would hope that hearing such a remarkable statement from someone of Senator McCain’s stature gives [Bachmann] pause in doing so any further.”
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