Briefing Bites
January 31st, 2011
05:08 PM ET

Briefing Bites

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs held his briefing this afternoon- the only public update we'll get from the White House in reaction to today's events in Egypt. While most of the briefing focused on Egypt, a couple of other topics came up too.

Click below for the top three exchanges from today's briefing:On Egypt:

Robert Gibbs spent a lot of time talking about Egypt but the biggest headline was when he was expanding on what "orderly transition" meant:

ROBERT GIBBS: "[A]n orderly transition has to include a process of negotiations with a broad cross-section of the Egyptian people, including those that are in the political opposition at the moment.

QUESTION: With the current government?

GIBBS: Well, I mean, I don't think the grievances are going to be met unless there's some measure of - of - of that involved. They have to address the freedoms that - that the people of Egypt seek and, as I said a minute ago, many of the things that - that we've outlined over the course of the past many days have to be included, again, free and fair elections. We've talked about the emergency law, again, changes in the constitution that facilitate a more open and democratic process. All of those things are what must happen in the country in order to transition to something that is more democratic."

On communication with Mubarak:

Gibbs was also asked about whether or not President Obama had been in contact with President Mubarak since Friday:

ROBERT GIBBS: " Let me just say this. Obviously, the president, the vice president, as I just mentioned, there's contacts that are happening both throughout the region and throughout the world, some of which we've read out."

Later in the briefing, this question was asked:

REPORTER: "Robert, can you assure us that any private back- channel messages to Mubarak or the Egyptian government are the same as what you're saying publicly?

ROBERT GIBBS:  "Yes. Yes, without getting into what a private back- channel might look like. That would make it less private."

On Jon Huntsman:

In non-Egypt related news, Gibbs was asked about US Ambassador to China John Huntsman's possible bid for President in 2012 and if those plans/rumors might get in the way of his current job:

ROBERT GIBBS: "Ambassador Huntsman has told a number - told several people inside this building that he plans to leave at the first part of the - during the first part of this year. When the president picked him in 2009, it was because we - we believed and continue to believe he brings a broad range of experience to an extremely important ambassadorial post with - with one of the - with one of our most important relationships in the world. The president continues to believe that.

I've seen reporting on this today - and I think it's - I want to be clear on this from - from up here - I've - I've talked to several people in the building. And I have not heard anybody say they know what the future holds for Ambassador Huntsman, except to say, as I said earlier, that he will leave sometime in the first part of the year.

The president and I think the American people expect that somebody that holds the post of ambassador from the United States to China will dedicate their full energy and time to that position, and we believe that Ambassador Huntsman believes that, as well."


Topics: Briefing Bites • Egypt • Robert Gibbs • White House

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