There are conflicting reports over whether or not Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went to Egypt recently at President Barack Obama’s behest, or on their own initiative.
Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast reported on August 6 that McCain told him he and Graham did not go to Egypt by any urging of the Obama administration but did receive the White House’s “blessing.” The two Senators happened to be in Egypt at the same time as Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns. According to the Daily Beast, both McCain and Graham met with Obama in July for two hours to discuss Egypt, Syria and other foreign affairs:
The senators were not in Egypt at the behest of the Obama administration; they decided to go on their own but did receive the “blessing” of the White House, McCain said. Despite being two of the administration’s fiercest critics on foreign policy for years, they have found themselves cooperating with President Obama more in recent weeks and were granted a rare two-hour meeting with Obama last month to discuss Egypt, Syria, and other foreign-policy issues.
McCain and Graham happen to be in Cairo at the same time as Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, who was working toward the same goal of bridging the gap between the Muslim Brotherhood and the new government. Burns is working in tandem with Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and EU envoy Bernardo Leon.
However, The Hill reported on August 4 that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry called Graham and McCain and asked them to go to Egypt:
The South Carolina Republican said President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry called him and McCain and asked them to make the trip to urge the Egyptian military to hold new Democratic elections.
“The Egyptian military must move more aggressively toward moving control over to the civilian population….the military can’t keep running the country,” Graham said.
“The one thing that’s not sustainable is a military takeover of Egypt,” he added. “They’ve promised new elections and they need to deliver.”
Graham criticized the Muslim Brotherhood administration that the military recently removed from power, saying it needs to move the fight off the streets and “start playing politics.”
President Obama is asking Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to travel to Egypt next week in a bid to persuade the nation’s military and government leaders to hold elections quickly, the senators said Tuesday.
“The president asked Sen. McCain and myself to go to Egypt next week, so we’re trying to find a way to get there,” Graham told reporters.
The proposed trip comes amid growing frustration from lawmakers over the Obama administration’s unwillingness to label the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a military coup.
McCain wants aid to be cut off to Egypt, calling the ouster of Mohammed Morsi a “military coup.” However, the Obama administration and other Senators on both sides of the aisle are not ready to take that step.