(Photo: REUTERS/Susan Walsh)
Ed Rollins, the GOP strategist and former campaign manager for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), is calling on his former client to apologize on the floor of the House of Representatives and "ask forgiveness" over accusations she made concerning one of Sec. Hillary Clinton's most closest and trusted aides and her possible association with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Others who are also criticizing Bachmann and distancing themselves from her comments include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
In mid-June, Bachmann and four of her colleagues sent letters to the State Department, Homeland Security and other agencies drawing attention to what she described as the Muslim Brotherhood's "deep penetration" into the U.S. government.
In the process of doing so, she singled out Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's personal aide, who happens to be Muslim. The aide's name is Huma Abedin.
Abedin is also Mrs. Anthony Weiner – wife of the former congressman who resigned in June 2011 over inappropriate texts and images he sent to other women. At the time of his resignation, Abedin was six months pregnant with their first child.
Weiner and Abedin are still married and are raising their newborn in both Washington and New York.
"As a member of Congress, with a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, Mrs. Bachmann you know better. Shame on you, Michele!" Rollins wrote in a piece on Fox News.
"You should stand on the floor of the House and apologize to Huma Abedin and to Secretary Clinton and to the millions of hardworking, loyal, Muslim Americans for your wild and unsubstantiated charges. As a devoted Christian, you need to ask forgiveness for this grievous lack of judgment and reckless behavior," continued Rollins.
The letters reference the Muslim Brotherhood's possible connection within several government agencies, most notably the State Department. An excerpt of the letter referencing Abedin reads:
"For example, according to 'The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,' a product of the Center for Security Policy (www.MuslimBrotherhoodAmerica.com), the Department's Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, has three family members – her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy making," Bachmann and her colleagues wrote in the letter dated June 13.
What brought the issue to the forefront was McCain's remarks defending Abedin on the Senate floor on Wednesday when he chastised Bachmann for her comments and praised Abedin.
"Huma represents what is best about America: the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully," McCain said. "I am proud to know Huma, and to call her my friend."
Rubio, like Bachmann is a tea party favorite but he also sought to distance himself from Bachmann's words, telling reporters he does not "share the feelings" expressed by Bachmann and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).
In a statement released late Wednesday, Bachmann said her words are being "distorted" and she encouraged her colleagues and others to read the letters.
"I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read them in their entirety," she said in a statement. "The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group's access to top Obama administration officials."
When asked if he had spoken to Bachmann on Thursday afternoon, McCain said he had not but said he disagreed that her comments were being taken out of context and that he stood by his earlier statements on the Senate floor.