By MARK SOMMERHAUSER
St. Cloud (Minn.) Times
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Michele Bachmann has made fresh allegations of ties between a global Islamist movement and the country's first Muslim congressman, even as Bachmann's fellow Republicans condemned her statements.
Rep. Keith Ellison, even as Bachmann's fellow Republicans condemned her statements about the movement and a top official.
In an interview Thursday with radio host Glenn Beck, the Minnesota Republican asserted that Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ellison said in a subsequent interview Thursday night with CNN's Anderson Cooper that he has no ties to the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that recently came to power in Egypt and that some say maintains ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Bachmann offered no evidence of ties between Ellison and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Beck interview. Bachmann's spokesman, Dan Kotman, cited a 2009 Fox News report that Ellison had a trip paid for by the Muslim American Society, a group described by an expert quoted in that report as "the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S."
The group, which is not listed among the State Department's foreign terrorist organizations, has been influential in the Arab world since the 1920s when it was founded to combat British colonial rule in Egypt.
Last week Ellison was among the first to ask Bachmann to substantiate her call to investigate if the Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner and Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham were among congressional Republicans to denounce questions by Bachmann and four other lawmakers about Huma Abedin, a deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The GOP backlash against Bachmann started Wednesday, when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., condemned what he called "sinister accusations" against Abedin, who is Muslim.
Boehner, R-Ohio, Thursday became the highest-ranking Republican yet to denounce them.
"I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous," Boehner said.
Bachmann and the other lawmakers singled out Abedin last month in one of five letters calling for investigations into possible infiltration of the State Department and other agencies by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bachmann's letter says Abedin's family has ties to the Brotherhood, notes that Abedin has routine access to Clinton and says the State Department recently has taken actions that benefit the Brotherhood. It and the other letters were cosigned by GOP Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Thomas Rooney of Florida, and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
In a subsequent letter to Ellison, Bachmann questioned how Abedin had obtained a security clearance despite what Bachmann described as her late father's, mother's and brother's ties to the Brotherhood.
Bachmann told Beck Thursday that she didn't claim Abedin is working on behalf of the Brotherhood but renewed questions about why the State Department issued her a security clearance.
"It certainly is conceivable that maybe they looked the other way on issuing the security clearance," Bachmann told Beck. "That's all we're doing is asking a question."
Bachmann also bristled at comparisons between her quest and former Sen. Joe McCarthy's 1950s push to root out communists, made by Ellison and her former presidential campaign chief, veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins.
"The attack machine has been turned on myself and the other members of Congress who have been asking these questions, that somehow we're the Muslim haters, we're the witch hunters, we're the new Joe McCarthyites because we're asking these questions," Bachmann said.
Bachmann also reiterated her claim that the Brotherhood has penetrated the U.S. government.
"The influence today of the Muslim Brotherhood at the highest levels, from the White House, to the Pentagon, to the FBI, even to our United States military, truly is breathless and people have to know about it," Bachmann said.
Meanwhile, leading congressional Republicans distanced themselves from the questions about Abedin that Bachmann and others have raised.
When asked Thursday about the issue on National Public Radio, Rubio said he believes Abedin is a patriotic American.
"I don't share the feelings that are in that letter from anything I've seen or heard," Rubio said. "In fact, I'm very, very careful and cautious about ever making accusations like that about anybody."
Graham, R-S.C., called the comments about Abedin "ridiculous" in an interview with Politico.
"She is about as far away from the Muslim Brotherhood view of women and ideology as you possibly could get," Graham said. "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."
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., delivered a rebuke to Bachmann in a post at his official Twitter account Wednesday.
"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," Brown's account says.
St. Cloud Times