CITY HALL — Republican Sen. John McCain reached across the aisle Wednesday to defend the wife of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner against unsubstantiated charges that she is part of a Muslim conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. government.
McCain lashed out at conservative firebrand Michele Bachmann and four other Republicans for accusing Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Weiner's wife, of being an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood in a series of inflammatory letters written to a slew of government agencies calling for a federal investigation.
“To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it,” McCain said during an impassioned speech on the Senate Floor.
“These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant," he said. “These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.”
McCain said that he rarely takes to the floor to discuss particular individuals, but felt compelled to speak in defense of Abedin, with whom he has worked for more than a decade — first when Clinton represented New York in the senate, and now at the Department of State.
“I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government," he said, praising Abedin as someone "who has devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves and looking after its most precious interests."
McCain also charged her accusers of "defaming" the country with their attacks.
"When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it,” he said.
“Unjust attacks that malign the good name of a decent and honorable person is not only wrong; it is contrary to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
Bachmann did not respond to repeated attempts to reach her for comment.
Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide, was thrust in the spotlight last year after her husband accidentally posted a lewd picture of himself on Twitter. The tweet led to revelations that he had engaged in inappropriate online sexual relationships with numerous women and forced his resignation.
Recent campaign spending reports filed with the city have suggested that Weiner might be preparing for a return to public life with a mayoral run.
In an interview posted online early Wednesday, Weiner remained noncommittal about whether he might run for office again.
"I'm very happy in my present life," he told PEOPLE magazine in an interview set to hit newsstands Friday.
"The only next dramatic steps I'm planning on are Jordan's first," he says, referring to his 6-month-old son.
Abedin, meanwhile, stressed that, after "a lot of work," she wants the world to know the trio are now "a normal family."
"Anthony has spent every day since [the scandal] trying to be the best dad and husband he can be," she said, noting that he's the one who does all the laundry. "I'm proud to be married to him."