Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) joint inquiry into the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States government has done more than irritate the usual suspects like Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) or the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- it is creating a rift within the conservative ranks.
Prominent Republicans like Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), and Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) have all come out slamming Bachmann in the strongest of terms. Politico reports that fellow Republicans "have their knives out" for the congresswoman, and across the spectrum there are calls for everything from an apology to a revocation of her position on the House Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have come to Bachmann's defense, saying there is nothing wrong with asking tough questions in the interest of national security.
Much of the controversy centers around Bachmann's questions regarding Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner. Bachmann, along with Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), co-signed a letter to the State Department asking whether the aide had received proper vetting before she was given access to sensitive information-- but Bachmann was the only one to send a16-page follow-up with 59 footnotes when pressed on the matter.
McCain called the questioning "unjust" and referred to Abedin as "what is best about America." Speaker Boehner called the inquiries "pretty dangerous," and Chairman Rogers said: "That kind of assertion certainly doesn't comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record." Scott Brown added that “Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line," and that "this kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse.”
He read: "It is official government policy. Under the heading of 'Potentially Disqualifying Conditions for a Security Clearance,' contact with a foreign family member that could present a heightened risk of foreign exploitation," is explicitly listed.
Watch the entire explanation, below:
Rush Limbaugh made a similar point on his Monday show:
“The Muslim Brother is not a harmless little offshoot here...They’re not the mainstream where the others are the kooks. They’re all together. Bachmann’s inquiry is justified, and there’s no reason to tar and feather her. It’s a legitimate question to want to know if one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides poses a national security threat ... That’s all they’re asking and McCain and the Republican establishment in the Senate went to the floor to trash Bachmann.”
Even Newt Gingrich backed up the congresswoman, asking what those who are attacking Bachmann are so "afraid" of learning.
"There weren’t allegations, there was a question," Gingrich said, adding that such questions ought to be asked "across the board."
Neither Speaker Boehner nor Rep. Bachmann were available for comment, and neither were the offices of the four other congressmen who signed the letters inquiring into the Muslim Brotherhood, all of whom seem to have avoided much of the vitriol currently aimed at Bachmann.
Which leaves many asking: Why is the GOP so clearly turning on one of its own in an election year, particularly over a case like this?
The Washington Post Tuesday offered four reasons. First, Bachmann simply has greater national profile after running for president, and her words are now held to a different standard. Second, a chain reaction began when John McCain, in particular, took to the Senate floor to attack a fellow Republican. Third, Bachmann simply messed with the wrong woman in Washington, since Abedin seemingly has many powerful friends. Fourth, the "seriousness of the charge," that Abedin may pose a security threat, is just too ridiculous for Bachmann's fellow Republicans to defend.
So far, no confirmation of Huma Abedin's background check has been released, and Bachman's questions with four other congressmen into U.S. connections to the Muslim Brotherhood have been demeaned, rather than answered. What is clear that Bachmann is receiving isolated heat for questions she asked with a number of congressmen, and the GOP is turning on itself over this issue.