The firestorm surrounding allegations by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the State Department continues to grow, but the right-wing firebrand shows no sign of backing down.
Despite criticism from fellow Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Bachmann doubled down on her allegations, and added a claim that Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is also affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the target of Bachmann’s initial attack, Huma Abedin, was receiving heightened security protection after unspecified threats.
The controversy erupted when Bachmann and four other Republican members of the House of Representatives demanded an investigation into a purported plot by the Muslim Brotherhood, a multinational political party that believes in governing using the principles of Islamic Law, to place agents into the U.S. government.
As evidence, Bachmann cited a video report by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, who served as an adviser to Bachmann during her campaign for president. Among its many claims, the report argues that conservative activist Grover Norquist aided the Muslim Brotherhood in their quest to “achieve information dominance over the George W. Bush administration.”
On Thursday, Bachmann also charged that Ellison, whose congressional district borders Bachmann’s, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview with Glenn Beck, Bachmann said that Ellison had “a long record of being associated with CAIR [the Council on American-Islamic Relations] and with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, said he was unsurprised that Bachmann would target him.
“I knew that sooner or later she would get around to accusing me,” Ellison said, according to a report by the Star Tribune.
Ellison told CNN that Bachmann “wanted attention,” and was trying to marginalize Muslim Americans.
Bachmann offered no evidence that Ellison had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ellison said he had no connection to the organization.
Abedin Under Heightened Security
Abedin, meanwhile, was under a higher level of security after unspecified threats made against her.
Abedin, the deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., was allegedly threatened by a Muslim man after Bachmann issued her call for investigation of Abedin.
Bachmann has alleged that Abedin has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, but her evidence is tenuous at best. CAIR spokesperson Corey Saylor said that the allegations amounted to “a ‘six degrees of separation’ drinking game.”
Republicans Condemn Bachmann
A series of Republican officials continued to denounce Bachmann. John Boehner joined previous condemnations by Bachmann’s former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, as well as attacks by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.
“I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous,” Boehner said Thursday. Boehner added that Abedin “has a sterling character.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also both strongly disagreed with Bachmann.
Graham called the allegation “ridiculous,” and told Politico that Abedin “is about as far away from the Muslim Brotherhood view of women and ideology as you possibly could get. She’s a very modern woman in every sense of the word, and people who say these things are really doing her a disservice because they don’t know what they’re talking about, and I don’t know what their motivations are, but clearly it says more about them than it does her.”
In an interview with NPR, Rubio said, ”I don’t share the feelings that are in that letter. 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.”
And a senior House Republican, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Politico that the attack by Bachmann was foolish.
“This is ridiculous and extraordinarily petty. Clinton is the most pro-Israel member of this administration. Clearly, this is another dumb idea from Michele.”
Bachmann, however, remained unrepentant.
“”I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read them in their entirety,” Bachmann said in a statement. “The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group’s [sic] access to top Obama administration officials.”
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore