It shows President Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, with a coterie of other officials — including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — in attendance. Although the meeting wasn’t unexpected, the photograph was, taken by a photographer who was accompanying Lavrov and was subsequently pushed out by Russia’s state news agency.
As The Washington Post reported, the White House wasn’t aware that the photo would be released publicly. “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,” one official told The Post’s Carol Morello and Greg Miller.
When the photo became public, people were quick to question the wisdom of allowing into the Oval Office at least one Russian who hadn’t been screened enough to identify that dual role. Much less, one who brought with him electronic equipment in the form of his camera. The Russians would love to place a recording device in the Oval Office, of course, and have a track record of using innocuous-seeming methods to bug their opponents. (Gizmodo noted that the Russians had once had schoolchildren present the U.S. ambassador to Russia with a decorative carving that included a listening device.)