The discussion became particularly intense at a briefing for Senate Foreign Affairs Committee staff on Thursday, where the administration sent six briefers from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Office of the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The current rider “does not require a coup determination to apply,” one of the briefers said, according to a person present at the session. “Events on the ground dictate policy; this was not a discretionary decision.”
However, the source said administration officials would not say whether their policy on holding back aid just happened to be consistent with the law or was driven by the legal restriction. Pressed on the point, State Department Director of Foreign Assistance Rob Goldberg said he “wasn’t a lawyer” and didn’t want to wordsmith, the source said.
Obama has said that there are consequences for the Egyptian revolution, even as he has dodged the word “coup.”