WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) isn't exactly coming to the defense of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) over her claim that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, may have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
During his Thursday briefing, Boehner said he hadn't seen the letters Bachmann and four other conservative lawmakers sent to five federal agencies warning that the Muslim Brotherhood may be infiltrating the U.S. government. One of the public servants who has been singled out is Abedin, whom Bachmann and her co-signers allege has ties to the hard-line Islamic group through her family.
Nevertheless, Boehner warned that lawmakers shouldn't make such serious allegations without anything to back them up.
"From everything that I do know of [Abedin], she has a sterling character and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous," he said.
Asked if he would consider removing Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee over the recklessness of her comments, Boehner demurred.
"I don't know that that's related at all," he said.
Bachmann recently sent the letters along with Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).
The accusations stem from a report by the Center for Security Policy. The organization is run by Frank Gaffney, who has been crusading against the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia law for years.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor and vigorously defended Abedin and condemned the accusations.
Since his speech, there has been near universal condemnation of the lawmakers.
Ed Rollins, Bachmann's former campaign chairman, posted a blistering op-ed on Fox News' website on Wednesday afternoon, comparing her allegations to the conspiracy theories of former Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) weighed in on Twitter, writing, "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."
And on Thursday morning, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he didn't "share the feelings" expressed in the lawmakers' letters.
In a statement on Wednesday, Bachmann said that her letters were being "distorted," but she did not directly address McCain or mention Abedin.
"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."
The Center for Security Policy issued a statement saying that McCain clearly had not fully reviewed the organization's "curriculum" and its "extensive documentation of a stealthy 'civilization jihad' being mounted against this country, its civil society institutions and government."
UPDATE 3:05 p.m. -- The Huffington Post caught up with McCain on the Hill on Thursday. He said he had not spoken with Bachmann since his speech on Wednesday. When asked about her accusation that her concerns are being "distorted," McCain replied, "That's not my interpretation." He added that he stood by his floor speech.
UPDATE 4:25 p.m. -- Boehner made his point again later in the day in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"These are dangerous accusations," Boehner said of Bachmann's claims. "If somebody had the facts, somebody should have put the facts out there."
Sabrina Siddiqui contributed reporting.
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