Courtesy of WaPo:Ambassador Kislyak and President Trump / Посол С.Кисляк и Президент Д.Трамп pic.twitter.com/Ckkx2YL9KX— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) May 10, 2017
A photographer for a Russian state-owned news agency was allowed into the Oval Office on Wednesday during President Trump’s meeting with Russian diplomats, a level of access that was criticized by former U.S. intelligence officials as a potential security breach.
The officials cited the danger that a listening device or other surveillance equipment could have been brought into the Oval Office while hidden in cameras or other electronics. Former U.S. intelligence officials raised questions after photos of Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were posted online by the Tass news agency.
Among those commenting on the issue was former deputy CIA director David S. Cohen. Responding to a question posed online about whether it was a sound decision to allow the photographer into the Oval Office, Cohen replied on Twitter: “No it was not.” He declined to elaborate when reached by phone.
The White House downplayed the danger saying that the photographer was screened just like any US journalist would be when entering the White House.
However the intelligence officials suggest that such a screening would not be adequate to locate any kind of sophisticated listening device that the photographer might have smuggled in.
What is perhaps equally troubling is that the White House did not seem to be aware that the photographer was working for the Russia news outlet.
The administration official also said the White House had been misled about the role of the Russian photographer. Russian officials had described the individual as Lavrov’s official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass.
“We were not informed by the Russians that their official photographer was dual-hatted and would be releasing the photographs on the state news agency,” the administration official said.
As a result, White House officials said they were surprised to see photos posted online showing Trump not only with Lavrov but also smiling and shaking hands with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
It should be noted that while the Russian news photographer seemed to have complete access to Donald Trump and his visitors, there were NO American journalists allowed to document the event.
In any other administration this would be considered shocking.
Another reason for concern is that apparently Putin himself instructed Donald Trump to take this meeting with Lavrov.
Courtesy of The Hill:
A White House spokesman told Politico that Putin requested the two meet during Trump’s last phone call with the foreign leader.
“He chose to receive him because Putin asked him to,” the spokesman said. “Putin did specifically ask on the call when they last talked.”
Just another reminder that for all intents and purposes Russia is now calling the shots.