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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 4th, 2013
05:43 PM ET

No coup? Obama's careful words on Egypt

As the protesters roared in Tahir Square in Egypt, President Barack Obama and his top national security officials were hunkered down in the situation room at the White House, trying to game out an incredibly volatile and complicated situation, the vanilla statements coming from the State Department podium notwithstanding

"We are monitoring it very closely," said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki Thursday, "and continue to believe that of course the Egyptian people deserve a peaceful political solution to the current crisis."

Hours after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was removed from power by the military, Obama released a carefully worded statement – and what he did not say mattered most.

He purposefully avoided using the word "coup."

He didn't call on the Egyptian military to restore power to 'the democratically elected civilian government,' but rather to "a democratically elected civilian government."

In other words, not necessarily Morsy's government.

The president has yet to appear before the cameras or comment publicly on the Middle East maelstrom, but back in September, Obama highlighted the rocky relationship with the Morsy government in an interview with Telemundo.

"They're a new government that is trying to find its way," Obama said then. "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy."

Obama's thinking now, according to a knowledgeable source, is that while the administration is not explicitly supporting the removal of Morsy from power, the hope is they can push the military in a new direction.

If the president had used the word coup there would be legal ramifications – a legal requirement to eliminate aid.

"If this were to be seen as a coup, than it would limit the kind of relationship we think we need with the Egyptian armed forces," General Martin Dempsey explained to CNN's Candy Crowley just before Morsy was deposed Wednesday.

Currently the U.S. gives $1.5 billion to Egypt, mostly in military aid.

In his statement Obama said he directed a review of the "implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt."

So could that aid disappear? Obama never says. He just raises the subject and then leaves it there.

And that just may be the point - to push the Egyptian military to hold new elections as soon as possible – a process that includes supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"A coup by any other name is a coup," Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution told CNN.

So while what happened in Egypt fits the definition of a military coup - don't expect to hear that four letter word from the administration.

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