White House Reaction To Unrest In Egypt
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's Mara Liasson joins me now. And, Mara, we also had a written statement from President Obama later today. He said it's not clear that the transition of authority in Egypt is immediate, meaningful, or sufficient. What else did the president have to say in that statement?
MARA LIASSON: The president was briefed on the situation all day. He was on Air Force One when he watched President Mubarak's speech. But he has less influence than I think the White House would like to affect events there.
BLOCK: And we are left with the impression, Mara, that the Obama administration was blindsided here, got at least its signals crossed about what was going to happen today in Egypt.
LIASSON: President Mubarak has proven to be a lot more stubborn and unmovable than anyone thought. But the president has been struggling to strike the right balance here. He says that change has to happen immediately, he wants this to happen now. But he has stopped short of saying that President Mubarak himself must go at any specific time.
BLOCK: This has been just an extraordinary two and a half weeks, watching these protests in Egypt. There's been concern - the president has expressed concern privately that his intelligence was not up to speed on what was going to happen, that they were caught off guard. What's your sense now?
LIASSON: But the president is frustrated. These events have been unfolding live, he's had to scramble to catch up. They happen in real time and he hasn't been able to anticipate them or get ahead of them.
BLOCK: NPR's Mara Liasson, thank you.
LIASSON: Thank you.
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