McCain: Obama should use Egypt aid to pressure Morsi to abandon new powers

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that the Obama administration should denounce Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's move to shield himself from judicial oversight and leverage U.S. aid to pressure him to revoke his new powers.

"Renounce the statement, and the move that he just made," McCain said during an appearance on Fox News. Allow the judiciary to function. If the judiciary is flawed in some way, then, that is an illness that can be cured over time but, absolutely, to assume this kind of power is unacceptable to the United States of America and, then, we can outline what actions might be taken. But first, condemn it."

The Arizona lawmaker said that even though Morsi had helped broker a recent peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, the United States should not feel constricted in demanding the Egyptian leader abandon his new powers. Morsi's move has sparked mass protests in Egypt, leaving hundreds injured.

"Our leverage is obviously, not only the substantial billions in aid we provide, plus, debt forgiveness and an IMF deal... marshaling world public opinion is against this kind of move by Mr. Morsi," McCain said.

McCain cautioned that it was too early to tell if the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would be effective.

"We appreciate President Morsi's action, but it was always in the past the United States that brokered the deals and there is a clear perception at least amongst Hamas that they won on this one. And, unfortunately, the PLO has been, Mahmoud Abbas and others have been diminished as a result of the negotiations and the settlement reached, and I predict Hamas will continue to test the Israelis and how far they can go."

McCain was also asked if it was possible Egypt was headed for an Islamist coup that would establish a religious state in Egypt.

"It could be headed that way and also could be headed back to a military takeover, if things went in the wrong direction," McCain warned. "You could also see a scenario where there is continued chaos… What the U.S. should be doing, saying, [is], 'This is unacceptable' and thank Mr. Morsi for his efforts in brokering a cease-fire, which is, by the way, incredibly fragile but is not what is acceptable."

McCain said that "American taxpayers expect” the president to tell Morsi that "our dollars will be directly related to the progress towards democracy, which you promised the people of Egypt, when your party and you were elected president."