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

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

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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world lead

August 15th, 2013
05:30 PM ET

Former State Department official: U.S. should have called Morsy ouster a coup six weeks ago

The Obama administration is not calling the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy a coup. If it did, the law dictates that the U.S. would have to stop sending $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

A senior White House official told CNN Thursday the decision to cut that aid would be based on American interests, saying, "We have national security issues in Egypt – the Sinai, the security of Israel, the Suez, and other regional issues. At the same time, it's difficult to continue a relationship with a government engaging in crackdowns like we saw yesterday."

"We missed an opportunity six weeks ago to call it a coup. The fact that we haven't undermines the credibility of the United States in the region," said former State Department spokesman and George Washington University professor P.J. Crowley.
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world lead

August 15th, 2013
05:04 PM ET

Egypt's bloody crackdown draws condemnation

Many of the dead lie in white sheets. The names, if they are known, written on the fabric enshrouding the bodies.

At least 525 people were killed in a single day in Egypt, according to the country's health ministry – a staggering number, the bloodiest day since the 2011 revolution.

The capital on Thursday was once again at a brink, after a day filled with violence.

Forces of Egypt's interim government stormed two camps filled with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. The result – a slaughter.

Members of Morsy's party, the Muslim Brotherhood, are retaliating. They stormed a government building in Giza and set it on fire. Morsy supporters also reportedly torched a number of Coptic Christian churches.

Any sort of political resolution moving forward is going to be very difficult, and challenging, says CNN Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon.

For more, check out the video above.

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Senior White House official: Obama's thinking on Egypt

world lead

August 15th, 2013
03:02 PM ET

Senior White House official: Obama's thinking on Egypt

By Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

Discussions about canceling the joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise known as “Bright Star” began in June, around the time the Obama administration canceled the delivery of four F-16 fighter planes to the Egyptian Air Force as a way of registering displeasure and concern with the Egyptian military’s behavior during and after the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsy, a senior White House official told CNN.

“When we postponed delivery of F-16s, we raised the issue of canceling Bright Star," said the official, who requested anonymity so he could speak candidly about the president’s thinking. Then came the camps of pro-Morsy supporters. “We were pressing them to not clear the squares,” the official said, “and when they decided to do that anyway, the broadly held view throughout the government was that Bright Star should be canceled.”
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Source: Why Obama decided to talk about Egypt

world lead

August 15th, 2013
11:43 AM ET

Source: Why Obama decided to talk about Egypt

By Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

President Barack Obama spoke out against violence in Egypt Thursday, saying the United States "deplored" violence against civilians.

The speech was a call for calm on both sides.

A senior White House official told CNN's Jake Tapper that Obama was briefed on the situation in Egypt by National Security Adviser Susan Rice Wednesday, but the situation was still very much in flux, with many conflicting reports.

But this morning, the president had a phone call, a “principals’ meeting” with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry,  the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and other top officials. It was during that briefing that the president heard more definitive information about the severity of the violence in Egypt. That conversation motivated him to come out Thursday, and call for calm.

“The smoke cleared,” the official said, providing a clearer picture of what happened, with more than 600 killed, and providing impetus for the president to cancel the joint U.S.-Egypt military exercises planned for next month, a decision the Pentagon conveyed to the Egyptian government.

The president's speech called for not only Egypt's government to stop the violence, but for protesters to demonstrate peacefully. According to the senior White House official, that is because of reports from the region of violent demonstrators, and attacks on churches and police stations.

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