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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.

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There is no evidence connecting Abedin or her family to any terrorist organization, McCain stressed in his Senate speech.

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"Rarely do I come to the floor of this institution to discuss particular individuals," McCain said. "But I understand how painful and injurious it is when a person's character, reputation, and patriotism are attacked without concern for fact or fairness."


He called Abedin "an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government, who has devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves and looking after its most precious interests."

A State Department spokesman said Clinton "very much values" Abedin's "wise counsel and support" and called the allegations preposterous.

McCain was supported on Wednesday by Edward Rollins, a prominent Republican strategist who worked on Bachmann's primary campaign.

On the Fox News website, Rollins wrote that he was "fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts," but said "this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level," a reference to the U.S. senator from Wisconsin who rose and then fell accusing government officials and others of being communists in the 1950s.

"....Shame on you, Michele!" Rollins wrote, adding that she should apologize to Abedin, Clinton and "to the millions of hard working, loyal, Muslim Americans for your wild and unsubstantiated charges."

The lawmakers' June 13 letter, which they released publicly, asserted that the State Department had recently taken action "enormously favorable" to the Muslim Brotherhood and that its interests could pose a security risk for the United States.

The letter cited a security study by an outside group alleging that three members' of Abedin's family, including her father who died two decades ago, and her mother and brother were linked to operatives or organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abedin is married to former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner of New York, a Jew.

(Additional reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Fred Barbash and Vicki Allen)

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