CNN ran a segment speculating whether top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was behind a recently released terrorist training video due to her “documented” family “ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.” The allegation against Abedin is a disreputable smear that has been previously debunked by senior Republicans and even CNN's own anchors.
On January 2, Donald Trump special counsel Michael Cohen retweeted comments claiming that Clinton and Abedin, who is Muslim, were behind the release of a recruitment video featuring Donald Trump from the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabab. Clinton had previously said during a Democratic debate that ISIS recruiters are “showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam.” Cohen retweeted a claim that “Huma put in order 4 video the second Hillary Clinton lied at debate re yet another video.”
During the January 3 edition of CNN's New Day Sunday, anchor Victor Blackwell read some of Cohen's retweets and asked CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord, “Is that something that's widespread among supporters that, I guess, you know, assumption or conspiracy theory that this was something that was drummed up by the Clintons?”
Lord responded by claiming that it's been “documented” “from a pretty reputable columnist” that “members of Huma Abedin's family have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.” Blackwell made no effort to refute Lord or correct his claims about Abedin, responding that there's a “reported connection”:
BLACKWELL: Is that something that's widespread? I mean, you're a Trump supporter. Is that something that's widespread among supporters that, I guess, you know, assumption or conspiracy theory that this was something that was drummed up by the Clintons?
LORD: Well, I think what he may be referring to, I don't know, but it sounds to me, Andrew McCarthy, who was the prosecutor, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the blind sheik, is now a columnist for National Review. And years ago documented that members of Huma Abedin's family have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. So, perhaps that's what he's suggesting here, that there is a tie, through a tie. I don't know. You'd have to ask him. But I don't think there is anything unusual. This has been out there for quite a long time from a pretty reputable columnist.
Lord added that he wasn't saying “there's a conspiracy here” but there are terrorists who “will take her [Clinton] up on it and just, you know, do as she suggests and put him in a video.”
The claim that Abedin is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood through her family has been thoroughly debunked by the media and even Republicans.
Rumor-debunking website Snopes.com wrote that “claims that her late father, her mother and her brother were all 'connected' to Muslim Brotherhood have no factual basis to them.” The Atlantic concluded that “from person to person, you kind of have to do a somersault to get from Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the accusations “nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.” Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Abedin “has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the attacks “ridiculous.” Fox News contributor and Republican consultant Edward Rollins called the accusations “outrageous,” “false,” “far-fetched,” “extreme and dishonest.” He added: “Abedin has been thru every top clearance available and would never have been given her position with any questions of her loyalty to this country.”
Two of CNN's leading anchors have also debunked the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory. During a July 2012 program, Anderson Cooper called the evidence against her “questionable at best” and based on “many degrees of separation.” That same month, Wolf Blitzer said the accusation is “an outrageous, McCarthy-like charge” and said then-Rep. Michele Bachman -- who promoted the claim -- “does owe Huma -- who I know well -- an apology.”
CNN is now pushing that same “outrageous, McCarthy-like charge” due to its employment of Jeffrey Lord. The CNN analyst is a fervent Trump supporter who continually embarrasses the network by pushing inaccuracies and defending misogynistic and anti-Muslim remarks.
CNN has been appreciative of Lord's commentary. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported yesterday that Lord told him “the network recently re-upped Lord's deal, extending him through the end of 2016.” Wemple added Lord's deal is one of cable news' “more exotic setups” since the Republican “gets paid, essentially, to say pro-Trump things on air.”