Republican Senator John McCain leapt across the political aisle Wednesday to defend a top aide to Democrat Hillary Clinton who has been accused of conspiring with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
McCain railed against accusations from five lawmakers in his own party, including former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, that Huma Abedin is somehow part of a Brotherhood conspiracy to influence US foreign policy.
Abedin, who is in her mid-30s, is a long-time aide of Secretary of State Clinton who has traveled around the world with her and acted as her chief of staff during her losing 2008 run for the White House.
McCain’s intervention, delivered on the floor of the Senate, was startling as it came against the backdrop of stark polarization in America’s bitter politics, with the rival camps in Washington gearing up for November elections.
“Rarely do I come to the floor of this institution to discuss particular individuals,” McCain said to open his remarks.
“But I understand how painful and injurious it is when a person’s character, reputation, and patriotism are attacked without concern for fact or fairness. It is for that reason that I rise today to speak in defense of Huma Abedin.”
McCain said he had come to know Abedin over many years as a devoted public servant whose “decency, warmth, and good humor” shone through as she “devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves.”
Abedin, a Muslim, was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1976 but moved with her family to Saudi Arabia when she was two. Her father was born in India under British rule and her mother is Pakistani.