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 Sergei Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to the US, a White House official said.
Photos of Wednesday's meeting, taken by a Russian state news media photographer one day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey amid questions about possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow, were ultimately posted by Russia's news agency, TASS.
The White House did not post photos of the meeting although an official White House photographer was also in the room, the White House said. The State Department did post photos of Lavrov's meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but that was open to the press.
They tricked us," an angry White House official said.
"That's the problem with the Russians -- they lie," the official added.As Carol Morello and Greg Miller report at The Washington Post, former intelligence officials say that the incident was 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.
Other former intelligence officials also described the access granted to the photographer as a potential security lapse, noting that standard screening for White House visitors would not necessarily detect a sophisticated espionage device.