During the meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday between President Donald Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, the only media allowed were an official White House photographer and a photographer from Russian state news media.
While the White House has been criticized for its decision not to release any photos of the meeting, the Russian government has made several photos public.
When the photos surfaced on social media, White House officials were furious.
“They tricked us,” an unidentified White House official told CNN. “That’s the problem with the Russians — they lie.”
WH furious over Russian government photos of Trump meeting with Lavrov/Kislyak. “They tricked us,” an official said of Russians “They lie.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) May 11, 2017
Susan Rice, former national security adviser during the Obama administration, sent a tweet with a blunt, two-word response to the White House’s claims of being “tricked” and lied to.
No kidding! https://t.co/EmArIbMJiH
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) May 11, 2017
Rice has been the subject of allegations by the White House of unmasking the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn after his phone conversations with Kislyak in December.
Several additional photos made their way to social media, with some critics of the Trump administration questioning the “optics” of the president meeting with Russian officials the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey.
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) May 10, 2017
Photos of Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak just hit the Getty wire and they’re all credited to Russian news agency TASS pic.twitter.com/qE9lWB6KuS
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) May 10, 2017
Members of the White House press corps were also upset at being excluded from the meeting and had to rely on photographs released by the Russian government.
The White House maintains there is nothing unusual about the president having limited media coverage during meetings with lower-level foreign officials.
Trump also faced criticism for holding the meeting, which included Russian ambassador Kislyak, in the Oval Office.
One White House official called the criticism “ridiculous.”
“It is ridiculous to say that an ambassador can’t meet with the president as part of a visit from a foreign minister. It’s standard practice,” the official said.
Kislyak’s relationship with Trump campaign officials has been the impetus for the FBI’s investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
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