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Boehner rebukes Westmoreland: Abedin accusations ‘pretty dangerous’

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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner became the latest prominent Republican leader to rebuke on Thursday a Georgia lawmaker’s allegations that the federal government had been infiltrated by an Islamist organization.

Boehner said Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s June comments about the political allegiances of a top aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were “pretty dangerous” when asked today by reporters.

Westmoreland joined last month four other conservative legislators–Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Tom Rooney of Florida, Trent Franks of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas–in asking for a State Department probe into Huma Abedin, Secretary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.

“I don’t know Huma, but from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character,” Boehner said Thursday morning. “And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.

In the June letter, Westmoreland said he was concerned that Abedin had exerted influence over U.S. foreign policy to the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group to which her now-deceased father had vague ties.

Boehner said he had not read the letter by his fellow caucus members, but his party’s last presidential nominee had — and was less than impressed.

The controversy reached a fever pitch on Wednesday, when Arizona Republican Senator John McCain delivered an impassioned defense of Abedin from the floor of the Senate.

“These allegations about Human, 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,” McCain boomed. “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.”

Westmoreland had issued no recent public comment on the letter.

- James Richardson