(CBS News) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday defended charges from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and other congressional Republicans that her aide, Huma Abedin, is tied to Muslim extremists, saying those accusations "really have no place in our politics."
After a speech on international religious freedom at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Clinton was asked about "Islamophobia" in the United States and whether she had "any comments about this recent activity in Congress targeting one of your own aides."
"Leaders have to be active in stepping in and sending messages about protecting the diversity within their countries," Clinton said. "And frankly, I don't see enough of that, and I want to see more of it. I want to see more of it, and 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."
The controversy stems from
Shortly after the letter was sent, Republicans jumped to Abedin's defense, including House Speaker John Boehner and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Scott Brown, R-Mass.
McCain said Bachmann's allegations "rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma's family," and criticized the letter for neglecting to offer "not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department or as a member of then-Sen. Clinton's staff that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government."
"These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit. And they need to stop now," McCain said.