11 months ago
Yesterday afternoon, Senator Paul Casey tweeted out this question: “Why is the state-sponsored news agency of Putin’s regime, which kills journalists, given access to Oval Office meeting over US journalists?” A fair question, considering the amount of negative press Russia’s been getting of late over allegations it hacked the 2016 election.
As the Washington Post reports, the move to allow the Russian photographer inside the White House’s inner sanctum—without any U.S. media presence—was also roundly criticized by former U.S. intelligence officials. Former deputy CIA director David S. Cohen mapped out a scenario that could’ve been a plot twist in an episode of FX’s The Americans, citing “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,” per the Post.
The White House, on the other hand, said the equipment had been thoroughly searched before the photographer was allowed to enter. But according to the Post, “the White House had been misled about the role of the Russian photographer. Russian officials had described the individual as [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov’s official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass.” Tass is the state-run news agency. “They tricked us,” a White House official later acknowledged to CNN’s Jim Acosta.
To that end, photos released were only supposed to include Trump and Lavrov, but some also included him with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the firing of Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a number of stories that have shined a negative light on the administration.
Below, watch an explanative/opinion piece on the issue by the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.