Did Trump Expose the White House to Russian Spy Surveillance?

Russian photographer's presence at Oval Office photo op raises red flags.

May 11, 2017 9:13 am
Was There a Russian Spy in the Oval Office Yesterday?
U.S. President Donald Trump (center) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) meet at the Oval Office of White House in Washington, D.C., United States on May 10, 2017. The third man on the right is Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. This is one of the photos taken by the state-sponsored media outlet Tass. (Russia Foreign Minister Press Ofice /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Yesterday afternoon, Senator Paul Casey tweeted out this question: “Why is the state-sponsored news agency of Putin’s regime, which kills journalists, given access to Oval Office meeting over US journalists?” A fair question, considering the amount of negative press Russia’s been getting of late over allegations it hacked the 2016 election.

As the Washington Post reports, the move to allow the Russian photographer inside the White House’s inner sanctum—without any U.S. media presence—was also roundly criticized by former U.S. intelligence officials. Former deputy CIA director David S. Cohen mapped out a scenario that could’ve been a plot twist in an episode of FX’s The Americans, citing “the danger that a listening device or other surveillance equipment could have been brought into the Oval Office while hidden in cameras or other electronics,” per the Post.

Was There a Russian Spy in the Oval Office Yesterday?
One of the Oval Office images taken by a photographer from the state-run Russian news agency, Tass, yesterday, of President Donald Trump shaking hands with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. (Alexander ShcherbakTass via Getty Images)

The White House, on the other hand, said the equipment had been thoroughly searched before the photographer was allowed to enter. But according to the Post, “the White House had been misled about the role of the Russian photographer. Russian officials had described the individual as [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov’s official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass.” Tass is the state-run news agency. “They tricked us,” a White House official later acknowledged to CNN’s Jim Acosta.

To that end, photos released were only supposed to include Trump and Lavrov, but some also included him with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the firing of Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a number of stories that have shined a negative light on the administration.

Below, watch an explanative/opinion piece on the issue by the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.


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