Republican House Speaker John Boehner called dangerous Thursday a request from members of his own party in Congress to investigate Muslim infiltration in the U.S. government.
Admitting he had not read a letter requesting the investigation, Boehner said "I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous."
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, along with four other Republican members of Congress, formally requested in June that various federal agencies investigate whether the American government has been infiltrated by Muslim extremists.
Among the issues they raise is a claim that long-time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, has three family members connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and is at risk of being influenced by her family members. The members of Congress want to know how she holds a high level security clearance.
On Thursday, Boehner said he did not know Abedin, but that "everything I do know of her she has a sterling character."
Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain made a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday criticizing the call for an investigation and defending Abedin.
"These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant," McCain said.
"When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it," he added.
State Department spokesman Phillipe Reines called the accusations "nothing but vicious and disgusting lies," in a statement to CNN.
Bachmann, who refused to answer questions from CNN about the letter on Wednesday, said in a statement that her and her colleagues' request was being "distorted."
"I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read them in their entirety," Bachmann wrote. "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."