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White House reportedly ‘furious’ after being ‘tricked’ by Russians into bad-look photo

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The White House addressed criticism about the security implications of allowing a Russian photographer into the Oval Office, saying the administration was misled about his role.

Photos of President Trump’s meeting Wednesday with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were posted online by Tass, the Russian state-owned news agency, surprising White House officials, according to The Washington Post.

The man Russian officials said was Lavrov’s official photographer also reportedly 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,” an administration official told the Post.

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CNN’s Jim Acosta reported on the White House reaction to the photographer’s dual role as well.

“They tricked us,” a White House official said, according to Acosta. “That’s the problem with the Russians — they lie.”

The former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Colin H. Kahl, questioned the decision to allow the Russian state camera photographer and his equipment into the Oval Office at a meeting that barred the American press.

Former deputy CIA director David S. Cohen replied simply, “No, it was not.”

In subsequent tweets, Kahl addressed the security concerns.

But a White House official said the photographer ““had to go through the same screening as a member of the U.S. press going through the main gate to the [White House] briefing room,” according to the Post.

Critics also denounced the president’s meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, who has been at the center of some of the allegations of collusion with Russia including his contact with  former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

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A White House administration official dismissed the criticism as “ridiculous.”

“It is standard practice for ambassadors to accompany their principals, and it is ridiculous to suggest there was anything improper,” he told the Post.

The official also added that White House rooms “are swept routinely” for listening devices or other surveillance equipment.

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Frieda Powers

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