Russians Troll Trump, release Photos of Meeting

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

CNN says White House officials were furious on Wednesday when the Russian press (the only journalists invited to the meeting of Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak) abruptly released the pictures. Apparently White House staff thought there was an understanding that they would be kept quiet. One White House staffer complained, “that’s the problem with the Russians, they’re dishonest.”

The meeting with Russian officials on Wednesday, in the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, apparently in part because of Comey’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, was widely seen as inappropriate and tone deaf. That only Russian media were invited was a further kick in the gut to America. But then to have the Russian wire services gleefully release the pictures– that’s priceless.

Here are some of Lavrov’s comments to the press after the meeting:

“Question: You have just learnt that FBI director James Comey was fired. Considering the accusations made by the FBI against your country, were you happy to hear that news?

Sergei Lavrov: I’m not the one you should be asking. I can give you examples of people being hired and fired in Russia, France, Great Britain. These are internal matters for you.”

Translation: Effing da, we’re happy! Also, apparently Lavrov has people fired in France and Great Britain.

On the charges that Russia is running the Trump administration:

Sergei Lavrov: Regarding the talk and clamour around our relations, fictional narratives about us allegedly controlling their domestic politics:

Of course, we notice the absolutely abnormal background against which relations are developing. I think it is demeaning for the American people to hear that the Russian Federation controls domestic politics in the USA. I believe that politicians severely damage the US political system when they try to act like America is being governed externally.”

So which would be more humiliating? For us to hear the charge, or for it to be true?

“Question: Much has happened in international relations since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Can you say that the way the US and Russia speak to each other has changed, especially after a missile strike on Syria?”

Sergei Lavrov: “The dialogue between Russia and the US is now free from the ideology that characterised it under the Barack Obama Administration. US President Donald Trump, his Administration, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the kind of people who want to maintain a dialogue not as a means of demonstrating what they can achieve in the area of ideological preferences, but rather as a means of solving particular issues…”

Well, I don’t know if the Russians put Trump in, but they sure are happy with him. An ‘end to ideology’ actually seems to mean rolling over and playing dead. Also the praise of Tillerson is pretty fulsome; remember that as CEO of Exxon-Mobil he was about to do a $500 bn deal in Russia before the Obama sanctions blocked it. Tillerson also had business dealings with Russia of his own.

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20 Responses

  1. “So which would be more humiliating? For us to hear the charge, or for it to be true?”: to hear the charge because the USA politician continue to ignore who “controls domestic politics in the USA” and now are barking at the wrong tree: that’s pathetic.

    • So why don’t you enlighten us? Let me guess it’s all people who you’d spell with three (((quax))) parenthesis.

      I am sure the Russians would be most eager to accept your explanation.

      • Dear quax, what would “enlighten” us is free press, press without untouchables,

  2. It is either arrogance or plain stupidity, that at the height of accusations that Trump fired Comey because of the Russian investigations, Trump flaunts these Russian officials in the White House, bringing in more attention to his problems.
    As for the claim by the WH that they were fooled by the Russian media, it shows that they are stupid, in a very dangerous way.

  3. It is surely disingenuous to expect a Foreign Minister, particularly one with Lavrov’s experience, to comment on Comey’s firing. Further, the question was loaded since it more or less implied a connection between the firing and the investigation. Defining it as an internal matter is exactly what any experienced minister would do, and what the US always does when much more egregious issues are raised about actions in Israel, Turkey, etc.

    The second response about interference in US politics is sound advice. It cannot be helpful to promote the idea that Russia or any other nation can influence, and by extension determine, the result of the election. Even if Russia was somehow implicated in the release of DOC emails to Wikileaks there was no necessity for the media to make such a breakfast of them since they contained nothing of any great moment, and if the argument is that the purpose was to undermine confidence in US democracy, that it seems to me was done when the result of all those months of campaigning and expenditure of grotesque sums resulted in a choice between two such candidates.

    The comment about ideology is again a diplomatic way of saying that at least they are no longer subject to lectures about human rights and democracy. Tillerson himself the other day said they were giving up that particular ritual flagellation with a feather duster, which must indeed have been a great relief for everyone dealing with the US, making it possible as, Lavrov is quoted, …to maintain a dialogue not as a means of demonstrating what they can achieve in the area of ideological preferences, but rather as a means of solving particular issues…

    • If respect for human rights is now an ideology, I am happy to be called and ideologist.

      • Human Rights is part of Western, and broader, ideology and remains so. I think Tillerson meant that it will no longer necessarily underlie US foreign policy. Since it never really did with any remarkable consistency it’s perhaps more like a lady removing her make-up before getting down to business.

    • Is the particular issue how they together can try to install fascist rulers in every capital in Europe, thus unifying most of the White race, and every one of its official nuclear powers, under an anti-democratic alliance?

      Now that would be change.

  4. Maybe Russia didn’t put Trump in because they needed a friend in the White House, rather they wanted an incompetent bumbler that could screw up a lot of things up in the US, and ruin our international reputation. Couldn’t have found a better choice.

    • Bingo, but it is a dangerous game for all concerned. I recall the ominous words of Hannah Arendt which I think still remains true to this day: The only thing that stands between humanity and nuclear annihilation is the stability of the American Republic. So much for that.

  5. The Trump Administration continues to provide us with amazing revelations. Health care is complicated. The job of President isn’t easy. And now we learn that a Russian dictatorship is dishonest, which Trump can identify with. Maybe next he’ll tell us that Middle East peace isn’t easy after all.

    • Ask him at the end of the week – I hear he’s off for the Middle East even as we speak…

      And I’m sure Trump will be coming back with all kinds of historical “revelations” (which nobody ever knew before or ever thought about) that were poured into his ear by whoever he talked with last.

  6. Putin the pragmatist, with chess master precision, clandestinely out-classed all the American billionaire oligarchs at their own game of “King Building with Millions” and bought the latest episode of Four Years in the West Wing. American billionaires should be ecstatic; capitalist globalization, everything bought and sold everywhere, is showcased in our nation’s capital by Putin’s pawn turned Queen bee. Checkmate, comrades.

  7. Given the interference of the CIA in the domestic policies of foreign governments over the years, it seems like a dose of your own medicine to be on the receiving end for a change.

  8. hillary clinton ran a singularly terrible and uninspired campaign. she still won the election because trump was an even worse candidate. but … in our pseudo democracy where election losers can win elections…..she lost. none of this has anything to do with russia.

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