Thomas Roberts | July 03, 2013
>>> good morning. i'm thomas roberts . good to have you with me as we're watching two developing stories this hour. first, court is about to resume any moment in the george zimmerman second degree murder trial after a short recess. and then in egypt , this hour, a deadline for egypt 's president mohamed morsi to come to terms to his political opponents or face the military stepping in after days of deadly protests there. as you can see, the crowd swell in tahrir square waiting for something to happen at this being the witching hour that the military gave the president the ultimatum, do something to calm the people of egypt or we will force you out of power. joining me now on the phone is hishel and also joining us from cairo is richard engel . let's talk about the crowd swell we have seen. we are at the tipping point, the hour that the military gave mohamed morsi the ultimatum to fix this or be removed. it doesn't seem as if we have any indication of which way that is going to go other than morsi last night saying that he was defiant of this and wasn't going to be going anywhere.
>> reporter: there is also a statement from morsi today that -- in which he's trying to offer a concession. he's saying that he's willing to form a new government, a government that is more inclusive, that he will listen to advisers, and that he threatened that breaking the legitimacy of his office could lead to a deterioration of democracy. a very similar kind of statement that we heard from president morsi in his televised speech last night this one was a written statement, but judging from the crowds who are here, that message, that latest offer to be more conciliatory, to be more inclusive by president morsi, certainly not being received here in tahrir square. there are tens of thousands, perhaps several hundred thousand people at this stage here at tahrir square. the mood is very upbeat. there is not much work going on in this country right now. a lot of government offices, people aren't going to their jobs. several major sectors in society, while they're not on strike, people are going home early. there is a lot of tension. so with so many people either out of work or taking the day off, the streets are packed and many of them are still coming in to tahrir square, carrying flags. it is hard to know there were that many egyptian flags available for sale here, but this entire square is blanketed with the colors of the egyptian flag . people are singing, people are cheering. they think the army is with them and they think that at any moment now the army is going to issue a statement saying what they hope it is going to say that mohamed morsi is being removed from power and there will be a new road map to a different government.
>> richard engel reporting there, stand by. i want to bring into the conversation ambassador dennis ross . sir, good to have you. we have you by television. as we're watching the pictures and as richard points out tens of thousands who have swelled into tahrir square what is the administration's position on how they're viewing this and how they are hoping that morsi who is now -- excuse me, we lost ambassador ross. but we also have hishem as well. let me shift gears to you. the administration watching this, how are they interceding or hoping to intercede if morsi is able to meet the concessions of disbanding what he has in place now and kind of starting from scratch?
>> it is obvious the administration does not want to see a coup in a classical sense. it is also obvious and i know this for a fact that the pentagon has been in touch with the senior military leadership in cairo urging them to press president morsi to reach an understanding with the opposition. and i think they would support the military, if the military's next moves are short of a cue. i don't know if they would accept quote/unquote a soft coup. but the administration does not want to see chaos in the streets of cairo and are very concerned and i think they were late in intervening and presenting certain, you know -- presenting the players with certain conditions. as you well know, thomas, the administration worked well with morsi. the american ambassador in cairo gave a speech recently in which he urged the opposition not to resort to the streets. and then she met with one of the major leaders of the muslim brotherhood . this enraged the liberal secular opposition. morsi government flooded the -- in gaza. morsi's government took a strong position against iran's meddling in the region and against the syrian regime. there is a good relationship, working relationship, if you will, between the morsi government and the obama administration.
>> it always has been -- it always has been in the u.s.' best interest to keep egypt as our ally. real quickly, though, does the military lose any credibility for the opponents of a morsi government if they don't do something, as they promised they two, given the 48-hour time clock and now here we are at the tipping point. do they risk their own credibility with the egyptian people ?
>> absolutely. everybody expects military to move now, especially opposition. the military in one year regained its reputation, as above the fray, if you will, as the only institution, national institution above the fray. and a year ago, they were suffering from bad reputation and bad ground. but morsi alienated the egyptians and drove them to seek help from the military.
>> the deadline passed for president morsi to resign. 5:05 in cairo , egypt . we are now over the tipping point. we're going to continue to follow this. thanks for joining me. i appreciate it.