White House furious after being trolled with Russia Oval Office photos

The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a photo of a smiling U.S. President shaking hands with Lavrov on Twitter while also posting a video of Lavrov joking about Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey's firing.

In response to a former national security adviser's Twitter question on whether the decision to allow a Russian government photographer to be the only one to cover the event was sound, a former deputy Central Intelligence Agency director, David S. Cohen, replied, "No, it was not". The Russian photojournalist was a TASS employee, who regularly serves as Lavrov's personal photographer. He declined to elaborate when reached by phone. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, the Russians are eager to improve relations with the USA, and the Trump administration seems ready for that as well. "We had an official photographer in the room, as did they", spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.

The White House defended its security, but other former intelligence officials said the level of screening granted for a visitor may not have been sufficient enough to detect espionage devices, The Washington Post reports.

The administration official also said the White House had been misled about the role of the Russian photographer.

Kislyak has figured prominently in a series of damaging stories for the administration.

Michael Flynn's failure to disclose meetings with Kislyak eventually led to his departure as national security advisor and made the Russian diplomat a virtual household name.

The administration official said that "it is standard practice for ambassadors to accompany their principals, and it is ridiculous to suggest there was anything improper".

CNBC has reached out to the White House for comment.

The VanEck Vectors Russia exchange-traded fund (RSX) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) pared morning losses and were flat in recent trading, with the us market under pressure and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) down 0.5%.

The Kremlin outmaneuvered the White House over the dissemination of photos of a rare Oval Office meeting between President Trump and top Russian diplomats that was closed to the US press.

This is a man who has spent the last 24 hours being called "Nixonian" and proceeded to stage a photo-op with Henry Kissinger. The U.S. press corps was not allowed into the meeting. The letters from Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are therefore part of a pretext for firing the FBI director engaged in an investigation of the president and his campaign's conduct. Asked if Trump was trying to stay out of public view, she said it was just the "nature of the calendar this week". After their Oval Office sitdown, President Trump expressed optimism about Syria saying he had a "very, very good meeting" with Lavrov. The last time Lavrov visited the American capital was before Russian Federation annexed Crimea from Ukraine and intervened militarily in Syria to help President Bashar Assad - actions that fueled U.S. Lavrov at turns characterized such allegations as "noise" and a "humiliation" for the American people.

LAVROV: (Through interpreter) President Trump and I talked about concrete things. We do not know whether that is what is at issue here, but Congress has no alternative but to determine why the president acted and why he acted now. They reportedly expected Republicans to back him up and thought Democrats wouldn't complain loudly because they have been critical of Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Trump fired now-former FBI Director James Comey, who told Congress earlier this year that his agency has been investigating Russia's actions - and possible ties to anyone associated with the Trump campaign - since July. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "was right where he has always wanted to be Wednesday", writes Susan Glasser, "mocking the United States while being welcomed in the Oval Office by the president himself". "He chose to receive him because Putin asked him to", a White House spokesman said of Trump's Lavrov meeting.

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