Welch: 'This Was a Coup ... We Need to Cancel Aid'

Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.) said the U.S. needed to immediately cancel aid to Egypt Thursday on MSNBC's Martin Bashir, saying the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi was undoubtedly a coup and supporting the military was "completely unacceptable."

Many U.S. lawmakers and officials have called the events there a coup, but the Obama administration has consistently refused to do so:

BASHIR: Mr. Welsh, are you satisfied with the president's response in canceling next month's biennial Bright Star military exercise? Or do you see this as others have as the equivalent of canceling brunch?

WELCH: Well, it's a legitimate step, but we've got to do more. You know, this was a coup.

BASHIR: What more, sir? What more do we need to do? What more do we need to do, sir?

WELCH: We need to cancel aid. We need to cancel aid. I mean, the fact is that this was a coup. That's number one, and the law says that we don't provide military aid in the event of a coup. A military overthrow of an elected government. Number two, America cannot have any part of this violence that is occurring in Egypt right now in supporting the military with this aid, then using that aid indirectly to -- on its own citizens is completely unacceptable, and we should not be having any part of that activity.

BASHIR: And yet here's the problem. You know that Egypt is, A, the biggest country in the Middle East, and second, the most critical in that axis that we see in an extremely volatile region. If that money is withdrawn, does that not remove any kind of leverage that might exist externally from the United States into Egypt?

WELCH: I don't think so, and there's two reasons. First of all, the money we provide now is a lot less than what the Saudis and the Qataris are providing. They are putting in about $8 billion. So the, quote, leverage that we have with that military aid is really incidental when compared to what others are doing. That's number one. Number two, there's a downside to the aid being military. It aligns us with the military that got on this coup when they responded to millions in the street because of the excesses of the Morsi government is now turning its own weapons on its own citizens, and we do not want to be part of that. That diminishes or leverages because it aligns was the military in violence against the Egyptian citizenry.

Bloodshed in Egypt has been severe during the volatile weeks since Morsi was removed from office, particularly Thursday when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its allies suffered a heavy blow from the state security crackdown.