Boehner Says Accusations Against Clinton Aide 'Pretty Dangerous'
For the second time in two days, a top Republican has rejected claims by Rep. Michele Bachmann and four other Republicans that an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ties to a radical Islamic organization.
House Speaker John Boehner said the suggestion by Bachmann, R-Minn., and the others was "pretty dangerous."
Earlier this week Sen. John McCain called the insinuations "ugly" and "sinister."
Last month, Bachmann, R-Minn., and four other House Republicans wrote a letter claiming that the family of Huma Abedin, a senior Clinton aide, has ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and questioned whether she is part of a conspiracy to harm the United States by influencing U.S. foreign policy with her high-level position at the State Department.
Boehner, R-Ohio, told a news conference today that he had not read the letter, but said, "I don't know Huma, but from everything that I do know of her she has a sterling character. Accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous."
The letter was sent June 13 to Harold Geisel, the Deputy Inspector General at the Department of State, while similar copies exploring other ties to the Muslim Brotherhood were sent to the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The letter states, "The Department's Deputy, Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, has three family members - her late father, her mother and her brother - connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations."
It adds, "Her position affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy making."
The letter was signed by Bachmann, Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga.
During a House Judiciary committee hearing today, Gohmert questioned Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about another U.S. official facing allegations, DHS advisor Mohammed Elibiary, asking why the aide allegedly downloaded and leaked information off of a DHS database.
Napolitano dismissed those claims and said she was troubled by "allegations that are made against anyone who happens to be Muslim."
Gohmert, who was almost screaming at times, then told Napolitano, "Well, the allegations are not because he is Muslim. You follow me around the world, you see me hugging Muslims around the world because the ones I hug are our friends. And this administration seems to have a hard time recognizing members of terrorist groups who are allowed into the White House. You are aware of that happening, aren't you?"
"Absolutely not." Napolitano answered.
Bachmann also blew past the criticism from her GOP colleagues, saying it is "MSNBC, CNN, all the usual suspects… lighting after us and saying that we're going after individual personalities and we're being mean to Muslims."
"This has nothing about being mean to Muslims," Bachmann argued during a forum at the Heritage Foundation today. "There are a lot of people who are Muslims who are upset about radical terrorism, too."
Asked whether he believes that Bachmann should lose her seat on the Intelligence Committee, Boehner said he did not believe that the issues were related. Bachmann contends that the intent of her letter has been distorted.
Abedin, who was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., is married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat who resigned after admitting he sent lewd pictures of himself to women from his House office.
McCain, R-Ariz., went on the Senate floor Wednesday to denounce the letter.
"These attacks have no logic, no basis, and no merit and they need to stop. They need to stop now," McCain said.
ABC News' Jason Ryan and Steven Portnoy contributed to this report