'Furious' Behar Whines, Press Excluded From Meeting With Russia Is 'Treason'
09:59, May 12, 2017
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President Donald Trump talks to reporters during a meeting with Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under President Richard Nixon, in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Washington.
When President Donald Trump hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday just hours after firing the FBI director who was overseeing an investigation into whether Trump's team colluded the Russians, he was breaking with recent precedent at the specific request of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian officials had described the individual as Lavrov's official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass. There had been no plans to immediately broadcast images from the meeting.
"No, it was not", David S Cohen, the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, replied.
In terms of the content of the meeting itself, the White House released an official statement claiming that the officials discussed ongoing conflict in Syria, Ukraine, and the Middle East at large.
The lack of independent USA media and the presence of a Russian state photographer in the room, however, raises serious concerns for the photojournalists assigned to cover the White House.
"This isn't an "America First" policy", one of the officials fumed of the White House's decision "to let the biggest perpetrator of fake news into the Oval Office". Kislyak, you'll remember, is the guy who Michael Flynn got in trouble after talking to, although it is not unusual for the ambassador of another nation to come to the White House.
That makes twice in the span of 24 hours that the White House badly misjudged the optics of Comey and Russian Federation. Whether the Kremlin had a hand in orchestrating it or not, his nemesis country is starting to question the strength of its democracy, with press being shut away from the White House in an unspoken media blackout.
Lavrov's American counterpart Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has admitted that US-Russian relations are at their lowest ebb since the Cold War and that there is nearly no trust left.
Asked whether they believed the intelligence community's January assessment that Russian Federation was responsible for hacking and leaking information to influence the elections was accurate, all six spy and law enforcement bosses appearing before the panel said "yes". "Was there coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians to interfere with the USA election?".
The White House said the order also aimed to enhance protection of infrastructure such as the energy grid and financial sector from sophisticated attacks that officials have warned could pose a national security threat or cripple parts of the economy.
However, an administration official told the Washington Post that White House rooms are "swept routinely" for listening devices.
In addition to posting the Lavrov-Trump picture, the foreign ministry also posted video of Lavrov joking about Comey's firing.
Trump said in a statement on Twitter that Moscow is likely entertained by Democrats' attempts to create an excuse for their loss in the 2016 presidential election.
In the House of Representatives, Justin Amash, a Republican member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said on Twitter that he had signed onto Democratic-sponsored legislation calling for an independent, bipartisan commission to probe Russian meddling in last year's USA election campaign.