Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump lawyers push back against Russia ties in letter

Comey's shock dismissal ignited furor among Democrats, who suggested that the FBI's investigation into Trump's campaign and Russian Federation could now be tainted, an idea the White House has rejected.

The photographer who stood feet from Trump as he talked with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, had said he was Lavrov's official photographer. Reporters overheard the two of them bickering over US policy in Iraq.

"Was he fired?" Lavrov asked reporters, sarcastically.

The top Russian diplomat also said after his Oval Office meeting that alleged Russian interference in the US election did not come up with Trump.

Privately though White House officials seethed at what they described as a breach of trust.

Michael Flynn's failure to disclose meetings with Kislyak eventually led to his departure as national security advisor and made the Russian diplomat a virtual household name.

Now, the White House is under fire for excluding the US news media, but not its Russian Federation competitors, from a high-level meeting. The White House official insisted it is standard practice to keep more of a lid on presidential meetings with lower-level foreign officials, as opposed to visits from heads of state, which typically come with greater press coverage.

But security experts still questioned the event. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said on CNN.

The White House was told an official Russian photographer would be present, implying the images would be for the historical record and not necessarily made public. "Proper protocol was followed in this procedure", she said.

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"Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the US tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election", Trump's tweet said.

Colin Kahl, former vice president Joe Biden's national security adviser, asked if having a Russian photographer in the Oval Office was a good idea, to which David S Cohen, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, replied "no, it was not".

"The dialogue between Russian Federation and the now free from the ideology that characterized it under the Barack Obama administration", Lavrov said.

The episode even came up Thursday in a Senate hearing on threats to USA national security. Sen.

The White House did not anticipate that the Russian government would allow its state news agency to post photographs of an Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to the USA, a White House official said.

Rogers told the hearing he had not been consulted beforehand. "I believe that politicians are damaging the political system of the US trying to pretend that someone is controlling America from the outside", he said, according to CBS. Their equipment is scanned and searched by the Secret Service, and the Oval Office is regularly swept for eavesdropping devices.

But when the images were published across the world via state media, the White House raged that Moscow had misled them.

On Thursday, Trump posted a picture on Twitter of himself and Lavrov.

While Trump noted in a separate post that the Russians "must be laughing up their sleeves" at America, he said it was because of the furor over Comey's ouster, which he characterized as a "Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election".

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