Nightly News   |  August 15, 2013

Obama: ‘Egyptian people deserve better’

President Obama condemned the violence in Egypt and even canceled a joint military exercise. What are his next steps? NBC’s David Gregory explains.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you. president obama took time from his summer vacation today to publicly decry egypt 's deadly crackdown.

>> the united states strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by egypt 's interim government and security forces . but, while we want to sustain our relationship with egypt , our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.

>> so, because of yesterday's violence, the president says the u.s. is canceling next month's planned joint military exercise with egypt , an exercise the two countries have held since the 1980s . but he made no mention of pulling the plug on ongoing u.s. military aid to egypt or other possible sanctions. let's bring in david gregory , moderator of "meet the press." david, why isn't the president taking a harder stance here?

>> well, the bottom line, lester, it's not clear the president knows exactly what he can or should do at this point. i talked to white house officials who said, with regard to pulling the aid, they don't want to play their whole hand in what one called a knee-jerk reaction here. that's the leverage they have, that $1.5 billion worth of aid. and don't forget that the strongest aspect of the u.s./egyptian relationship is the relationship the u.s. has with the military in egypt . so there's been a lot of faith that they place in the military going back weeks to the original ouster of morsi, that they thought they'd very quickly get back on a democratic path. they're now stung by the fact that they have made a different calculation. the president ratcheting up the pressure to try to pull them back.

>> david gregory , thank you.