WH closes off U.S. press to Trump-Lavrov meeting, Russian media covers it

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], May 11 : The morning after United States President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was the one event that had everybody's attention pouring in.

When Lavrov arrived in Washington on Wednesday after a gap of four years, he was absolutely "shocked" to hear that Russia had been accused of meddling in US internal affairs.

He was also clueless about FBI director James Comey's abrupt dismissal the night before, in the midst of a multi-pronged investigation into Russian interference.

"Was he fired? You're kidding! You're kidding!" the Russian foreign minister exclaimed when a journalist asked him whether Comey's downfall might throw a shadow over the Russian's visit, The Guardian reports.

The White House closed off press access to the Oval Office meeting with Lavrov, and did not even allow photographers in.

Eventually, it was left to the Russian state press to put out pictures of Trump and Lavrov meeting and shaking hands.

They were joined by Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington. Kislyak is the same person who a string of Trump aides were said to have had contact with and eventually got themselves into trouble - most importantly Flynn, who no longer has a job in the White House because of them.

As far as the day's discussions are concerned, the White House and the State Department put out terse statements, and gave no briefing, leaving it once again to the Russians to frame the presentation.

At a press conference in the Russian embassy, Lavrov praised Trump and portrayed the Kremlin and the Trump administration as working together to clear up the mess left behind, a reference in part to the continuing U.S.

sanctions on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine and its role in the U.S. presidential elections. "We discussed our bilateral relations which are not very encouraging. The reason is well known. Unfortunately the previous administration bent over backwards to undermine the solid foundation of those relations," Lavrov said, The Guardian reports.

"President Trump clearly states his interest to build businesslike pragmatic relations with Russia and to settle outstanding issues.

"Regarding this noise about our contacts, that fake information by which we are allegedly in control of the domestic policy of the US - yes, it [has become] the normal background for our relations," he said.

"It must be humiliating for the American people to realise that the Russian federation is controlling the situation in America.

How is it possible for such a great power and such a great country?" he added. And the one statement that made the most impact was when he said the politicians were "damaging the political system of the U.S." "I believe that it is politicians who are damaging the political system of the US trying to pretend that someone is trying to controlling America from the outside," Lavrov said.

Source: ANI