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Friday July 27, 2012

UPDATE: Prominent Republicans Join McCain in Denouncing Bachmann’s Witch-Hunt

Posted by Frank Matt at 3:11 pm

Michele Bachmann and her colleagues are finding themselves increasingly isolated within their own party in their McCarthyite witch-hunt to root out Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the federal government. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) yesterday was the first fellow republican to condemn the unfounded attacks on Huma Abedin and other American Muslim public servants. Several key republican figures joined Sen. McCain in his condemnation today, including Speaker of the house John Boehner and Senators Marco Rubio and Scott Brown. Here is an account of their statements:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) when asked whether he shares the concerns expressed in Representative Bachmann’s letters, called the allegations “dangerous,” but stopped short of criticizing Bachmann directly.

BOEHNER: “I haven’t seen the letter, but — I don’t know Huma, but from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character. And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”

Q: “Would you consider taking her off the Intelligence Committee? Congresswoman Bachmann?”

BOEHNER: “I don’t know that that’s related at all.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke out against the attacks on NPR’s Diane Rehm show. Rubio was asked by a caller if he would join Republican Sen. John McCain’s strong condemnation of the anti-Muslim witch hunt on the Senate floor yesterday.

RUBIO:  “Everyone I talk to who has dealt with her, says she is a professional and hardworking and patriotic American who loves her country and in the service of her country is serving it.”

“I can tell you that I don’t share the feelings that are in that letter, and in fact, I’m very very careful and cautious about ever making accusations like that about anyone.”

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) was the only one to condemn Representative Bachmann by name, in a strongly worded tweet published late yesterday afternoon.

“Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse.”

While these three lawmakers’ remarks were more cautious than Sen. McCain’s speech on the House floor yesterday, it is still significant that such prominent members of the Republican leadership, including the Speaker of the House, would  speak out against a fellow Republican.

The harshest rebuke came not from any of Rep. Bachmann’s colleagues on the hill, but from her former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, who guided her to victory in the Iowa caucuses. Rollins called her charges “extreme and dishonest,” and expressed personal shock at Bachmann’s distortions.

Rollins went so further to say: “Having worked for Congressman Bachman’s campaign for President, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level.”

He ended his op-ed with an exclamation of “shame on you, Michele!” as well as a demand that she apologize to Ms. Abedin and every American Muslim public servant she slandered by extension. 

UPDATE 7/19 4:15PM:

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined other prominent Republicans willing to denounce the unfounded charges leveled by members of their own party. The South Carolina Senator defended the chief target, Huma Abedin, saying "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.”

UPDATE 7/20 3:30PM:

CNN's Anderson Cooper reports that two of the five agencies that received letters from Rep. Bachmann and her cosigners have gone on record saying the will not investigate the letters' baseless charges of infiltration:

COOPER: "We called the inspectors general involved here. Two of the five agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, told us they had no plans to investigate. And both were clear that a request like this is outside the inspectors general mandate, saying that they look at the effectiveness of programs. They look for waste, fraud, abuse."

UPDATE 7/20 5:30PM:

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) responded to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s recent attacks on American Muslims. 

“The baseless and slanderous accusations by Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann – attacking honorable Muslim-Americans in government service working on behalf of the American people, including my dear friend and colleague Congressman Keith Ellison – are malicious and bigoted. This transparent tactic of manufacturing unsubstantiated claims to draw media attention goes beyond incivility by an elected representative; it extends into the realm of abnormal behavior.

UPDATE 7/21 8:30PM:

In an interview with USA Today, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rodgers withdrew his previous support for Michele Bachmann's witch-hunt and distanced himself from her letters:

"That kind of assertion certainly doesn’t comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record. I have no information in my committee that would indicate that Huma is anything other than an American patriot…This was not an activity that was sanctioned as any Intelligence Committee matter."

UPDATE 7/23 9:30AM: 

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was asked by a constituent in a town hall meeting yesterday to show support for Michele Bachmann's attacks on  American Muslim public servants. Rep. Sensenbrenner stood up to the Islamophobic remarks of his constituent and joined the ranks of his fellow Republicans in decrying the witch-hunt. Rep Sensenbrenner's response stands out in that he not only condemned the specific unfounded allegations against Huma Abedin, but also gave an impassioned argument for religious pluralism and tolerance:

SENSENBRENNER: "Let me say that I do know Huma Abedin and I think that the comments that were made about her in that letter, whether or not they were taken out of context, were the wrong thing to do… I think the Constitution in saying that there shall never be a religious test for any office of trust and profit under the United States meant that people should not be judged on the basis of their religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs. That was Thomas Jefferson that put that in the Constitution — I think he was right."

CONSTITUENT: "I think that there’s a political ideology that’s a concern in Islam that is concerning and that should be looked at and we should know that this person is not a threat…"

SENSENBRENNER: "The First Amendment prohibits the government from making a distinction between what is “good religion” and what is “bad religion.” That’s none of the government’s business. Religion is a personal issue to every one of the people who lives in the United States, whether you practice a faith, how you practice a faith, whether you don’t practice a faith, whether you say you’re a member of a faith but don’t practice it, it’s none of the government’s business. And this is the whole issue of religious freedom. And that has been one of the most cherished freedoms that this country has had since its beginning."

UPDATE 7/25 4:30PM:

Members of the House Intelligence Committee have come out en masse against Bachmann's request for investigation of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration. Bachmann is a member of the committee, though most of her colleagues on the committee agree that these unfounded allegations are harmful to the committee's important bipartisan work. It is both significant and highly unusual that so many members of a committee, including it's leadership would publicly deride a fellow member to such a degree. Perhaps she will not have a position on the House Intelligence Committee for very long. Here is a sample of some of some of the statements made today:

Ranking Member Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) - “We have a small committee, we work hard together, it’s a very bipartisan committee and we deal with national threats. This does not help our committee at all.” 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) - “The unfounded allegations made by some members of the Intelligence Committee against Huma Abedin are deeply disturbing — and damaging to the committee’s work and its reputation. The authors discredit themselves and are deserving of no further comment” 

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) - “Given our access to sensitive information, I also believe members of the Intelligence Committee have a special responsibility to exercise caution in making statements about national security concerns,” said , a member of the committee. “The only reasonable action for the authors of these letters to take would be to withdraw their requests.”

UPDATE 7/27 4:00PM:

The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave an extended interview to Buzzfeed last week in which he urged his party, and the nation, to stand against intolerance on a range of issues, including the role of Muslims in the government. He made it clear, however, that he was not speaking specifically about Michele Bachmann’s allegations. Charlie Rose, in an interview with Rep. Cantor, asked him specifically about Bachmann’s letters, noting that they did not square with the sentiments he expressed to Buzzfeed. Rather than stand against the kind of intolerance he decried in his Buzzfeed interview, he chose to defend Rep. Bachmann.

 ROSE: “Do you think Congresswoman Bachmann was out of line? I mean, it does not square with this?”

CANTOR: “Well, again, I think that if you read some of the reports that have covered the story, I think that her concern was about the security of the country. So that’s about all I know.”

 

Tagged as Issues, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Islamophobia, Posted by Frank Matt

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