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McCain calls accusations against Clinton aide 'sinister' (+video)

Several House Republicans, including Representative Michele Bachmann, sent a letter to the State Department in June suggesting that a member of the Secretary of State's staff had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Now other Republicans in Congress are criticizing this action.

By Thomas FerraroReuters / July 19, 2012

In this file photo House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio participates in a ceremonial swearing in with Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and his wife Huma Abedin on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner said that it's dangerous for a fellow Republican to allege that an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has family ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

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The top Republican in the U.S. Congress on Thursday criticized Representative Michele Bachmann and four other fellow House Republicans for making "pretty dangerous" accusations when they questioned the security clearance of a Muslim aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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The comments of House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner came after Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, blasted the five lawmakers for seeking an investigation into whether Huma Abedin, Clinton's deputy chief of staff, had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political organization.

Boehner, speaking at a regular news briefing, said "accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous." He said he did not know Abedin, but "from everything I know of her, she has a sterling character."

McCain took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to accuse the lawmakers of making a "sinister" attack on Abedin. Following the custom in Congress, he did not name them but left no doubt he was talking about Bachmann, as well as Representatives Louie Gohmert, Trent Franks, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland.

They sent a letter in June to the State Department's inspector general suggesting members of Abedin's family may have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the writers said may be seeking access to high levels of the U.S. government.

Most attention has focused on Bachmann, who earlier this year failed in her bid for the Republican presidential nomination. She has long been criticized by fellow Republicans, among others, for controversial comments and factual errors.

Bachmann defended her actions Thursday on the talk show of conservative host Glenn Beck. "If my family members were associated with Hamas, a terrorist organization, that alone could be sufficient to disqualify me from getting a security clearance," Bachmann said, according to a transcript of her remarks. "So all we did is ask, did the federal government look into her family associations before she got a high level security clearance."

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