Lawmakers may have been increasing their calls for the White House to stop $1.3 billion a year in aid to Egypt, but President Barack Obama still hasn’t decided whether to do so following the massacres in recent days.
Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the White House has set aside the legal question of whether the military’s takeover of that country is a “coup” and is evaluating the aid separately based on whether stopping it would affect national security.
“That’s the purpose of these reviews, is to determine what impact it would have on our national security, whether it’s in compliance with the law, and is it going to get us closer to seeing the kind of outcome in Egypt that we would like to see, which is the prompt return to a democratically elected civilian government,” Earnest said.
Earnest also told reporters Monday that the president stands by his statement that the National Security Agency is not spying on Americans, despite a report in The Washington Post detailing thousands of incidents of unauthorized surveillance each year.
“The fact that this Washington Post story could be written in the first place is evidence there is rigorous oversight ongoing at the NSA,” Earnest said.
But he said the White House wanted to work with Congress and others on improving oversight further to make sure the public has confidence in the programs.
He also said that the United States was given a heads up by the United Kingdom that it was about to detain the Brazilian partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, but he denied the United States played a role. “The United States was not involved,” Earnest said.
But he wouldn’t say whether the White House objected to the detention.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.