White House bars US press from Trump-Lavrov's meeting but allows Russian media

Trump Lavrov meeting. (photo by Alexander Shcherbak/TASS)
Trump Lavrov meeting. (photo by Alexander Shcherbak/TASS)
The White House barred reporters from witnessing the meeting between Donald Trump and Sergey Lavrov but granted access to Russian state media, it has emerged.

(Independent) -- David S Cohen, the former deputy director of the CIA, is among those alarmed by the decision to allow a Tass news agency photographer into the Oval Office, which some argued could present a security risk.

When a former national security adviser to the Obama administration asked whether it was a “good idea” to let a Kremlin-linked photographer and their equipment into the high security area on Twitter, Mr Cohen replied: “No, it was not.”

The US President’s meeting with Mr Lavrov was listed as “closed press” on his schedule, meaning media would not be allowed inside to document the meeting, unlike those with heads of state including Angela Merkel.

Earlier in the day, bemused journalists had also been summoned to attend an unannounced meeting between Mr Trump and Henry Kissinger.

So there was surprise when Tass news agency started publishing photos of Mr Trump and the Russian foreign minister, also showing the US President smiling and shaking hands with ambassador Sergey Kislyak in images shared by the Russian embassy.

Officials in the White House, which released no images through its own channels, were reportedly surprised by the output.

“Our official photographer and their official photographer were present - that’s it,” an aide told the New York Times.

Another member of the Trump administration said the White House had been misled, being told the photographer was attached to Mr Lavrov by Russian officials who did not disclose he also worked for Tass.

“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,” the official told the Washington Post.