From NBC’s Andrea Mitchell
It was clear from Bill Daley -- the new White House chief of staff, at a roundtable with reporters this morning -- that the White House had no warning of today's events in Egypt. *** NOTE *** The roundtable was hosted by Bloomberg News.
Daley said the president's 30-minute conversation with Mubarak last night was "cordial not heated."
He said the history of the military in Egypt is "an enormous plus" for the transition. Given the history going back to Nasser, he said that there is an obvious possibility that the next leader come from the military. He also said that there have been extensive, continuing contacts with the military, but the bottom line is that the people will control this.
Based on the overnight news -- and morning broadcasts -- he said, "All the signs are there is a return of some normalcy" pointing to the Internet being back on, and some businesses reopening, clearly outdated by events.
In fact, speaking without knowing that the streets were actually at that moment beginning to erupt in clashes, Daley said that the president's message to Mubarak was that the No. 1 concern for the government of Egypt and the United States is that the transition remain peaceful, but that it is for the people of Egypt to determine what the next steps are.
Asked if U.S. standing in the region might be better off after Mubarak, he said, "We are trying to avoid being put in a negative position. The president has been very up front to say the will of the people has to be responded to.”
What if the will of the people moves toward the Muslim Brotherhood? "We would hope it came out of this crisis a stronger democratic secular nation” that tries to lead for peace, Daley said.