Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday denied allegations that one of her top aides has links to the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, saying there is “no place in our politics” for such “assaults.”
Clinton was marking the release of the State Department's annual report on religious freedom around the world when she was asked to comment regarding the allegations against her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin.
Clinton responded by linking the Abedin controversy into the struggle of developing nations to respect minority religions.
“Leaders have to be active in stepping in and sending messages about protecting the diversity within their countries,” Clinton said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “We did see some of that in our own country. We saw Republicans stepping up and standing up against the kind of assaults that really have no place in our politics.”
Clinton has mostly kept silent about the allegations, although State Department spokesman Philippe Reines has previously denounced them as "nothing but vicious and disgusting lies,” adding that, “anyone who traffics in them should be ashamed of themselves.”
The House members who raised the issue, including Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) have doubled down, accusing the media of focusing solely on Abedin rather than the broader risk of Islamist infiltration of government.
In her comments, Clinton called religious freedom a “bedrock priority” of the Obama administration's foreign policy.
Clinton said the United States was ready to work with Egypt's democratically elected leaders, but reaffirmed that “our engagement with those leaders will be based on their commitment to universal human rights and universal democratic principles.”