By Elise Labott
The Obama administration is deferring judgment about whether President Mohammed Morsy was ousted in a coup while the Egyptian political process moves forward.
"There's an elephant in the room here," White House Press Secretary James Carney told reporters on Tuesday. "It is in our national interest – the best interest of the United States, and the best interest, in our view of our goal in assisting the Egyptian people, in their transition to democracy to take the time necessary to evaluate the situation before making such a determination."
Another U.S. official was more blunt.
"A policy determination has been made the meantime to call it nothing," the official told CNN.
"We hope to be in a place where the determination is no longer an issue," the official added, referring to the political process underway in Egypt.
The United States has been reluctant to choose sides in Egypt's political standoff, with officials stressing the main priority is minimizing violence and ensuring inclusiveness in the political process.
Officials feared the United States could make things worse by inserting itself in the conflict, considering Morsy was ousted with broad public support.
Moreover, no legal determination enables the United States to continue $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt, which it would have to cut off if a determination was made that a coup took place.
Officials argued a collapse of the Egyptian economy would only further destabilize the country.
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters that, "broadly speaking," the administration still believes that continuing military aid is a U.S. national security priority.
The State Department and U.S. Embassy in Cairo are urging the military to shed any appearance of a coup and put in place a political process that moves the country on a democratic path.
"We are telling the military to get the ball rolling, and avoid any appearance of military rule," another official said. "Appoint a prime minister, put a new cabinet in place and announce elections."
Likewise the United States is calling all sides to engage in a political process and move the country toward elections, emphasizing the need for inclusiveness.
Officials are trying to persuade the Muslim Brotherhood to move past the military action against Morsy and re-enter the political process.
"We have emphasized that they need to engage in the political process and ensure they have a say in the final outcome," the second official said.