John McCain made an unusual speech on the Senate floor this morning, defending former colleague Huma Abedin from “unwarranted and unfounded” accusations brought about in letters from Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).
Some background: Bachmann and four other members of Congress wrote a letter to the State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice Departments in June, asserting that there had been a “deep penetration” of the Muslim Brotherhood into the U.S. government.
That drew a letter from fellow Minnesota Rep. and practicing Muslim Keith Ellison, who sent a stern response asking her to provide “credible, substantial” evidence for such serious claims.
On Tuesday, Bachmann responded with a letter singling out Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a practicing Muslim (and the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner). Bachmann wrote that three members of Abedin’s family have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the State Department has “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
McCain suggested those charges were ridiculous. He didn’t say Bachmann’s name, but it’s pretty clear who he’s talking about. Some of his scathing words:
“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, 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. […]
“These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.
“Ultimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person. This is about who we are as a nation, and who we aspire to be. What makes America exceptional among the countries of the world is that we are bound together as citizens not by blood or class, not by sect or ethnicity, but by a set of enduring, universal, and equal rights that are the foundation of our constitution, our laws, our citizenry, and our identity. 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.“