US & Canada

Republicans attack Bachmann Muslim conspiracy letter

Huma Abedin in a 20 September 2011 file photo
Image caption Huma Abedin worked with Secretary Clinton in the Senate as well

Senior US Republicans have strongly condemned former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann for attacks on a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton.

She said Huma Abedin had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and implied she was part of a wider conspiracy.

Mrs Bachmann was first criticised by Senator John McCain, then by House Speaker John Boehner and others.

Minnesota congresswoman Mrs Bachmann rose to prominence criticising President Barack Obama in 2008.

She branded the president "un-American" in a TV interview, later becoming a darling of the Tea Party, and founding the Tea Party caucus in the House before launching a presidential bid in 2011.

But her latest statements appear to have angered her party colleagues.

"These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit, and they need to stop now," veteran Senator John McCain said on Wednesday.'

Mrs Bachmann, along with four other Republican legislators, wrote a letter to the State Department, along with other government agencies, calling for a probe of Muslim Brotherhood influence in the US government, singling out Ms Abedin.

The letter alleged that she had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood through her family.

'McCarthy level'

"From everything I do know of [Huma Abedin], she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous," House Speaker John Boehner said.

Senator Lindsay Graham told Politico the charges were "ridiculous" and that Ms Abedin "is about as far away from the Muslim Brotherhood view of women and ideology as you possibly could get".

Mrs Bachmann also received calls to apologise from Representative Keith Ellison, a Democrat who is a Muslim. On cable network MSNBC, he rejected her accusations that the letters had been distorted.

In addition, Mrs Bachmann's former campaign manager Ed Rollins wrote a scathing attack on Fox News' website , saying the Minnesota congresswoman "sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level".

Sen McCarthy became infamous for his false charges in the 1950s that Communist spies had infiltrated the state department.

As of Wednesday, Mrs Bachmann refused to apologise, saying she would "not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces".

Ms Abedin, who was also Mrs Clinton's aide during her Senate term, is a Muslim of Pakistani descent who was born in Michigan.

She is married to former Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned in disgrace last year after sending lewd online photos to other women.

"My family and I are grateful to Senator McCain," Mr Weiner said to the Washington Post on Wednesday. "I think he spoke for many Americans in expressing his disgust for the charge against my wife."

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