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In Russia, photos take YOU.

We’ve already mentioned that some White House staff were upset about the tricksy Russian photographer who took photos of Wednesday’s Oval Office pajama party where Donald Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak got together to listen to sad balalaika music and reminisce about the days when empires could carve up the world without a lot of stupid worries about “human rights.” But we didn’t realize just what a serious case of butthurt the whole incident set off in the West Wing until we read this hilarious Daily Beast story where two “senior administration officials, one an Obama holdover and the other a Trump appointee,” shared their very strong feels about how the photos were a feather in Russia’s cap and a big black eye for the administration. All in all, it probably could have gone better.

For one thing, Team Trump had been very hush-hush about the presence of Ambassador Kislyak, whose name is a bit of a sore point seeing as how every third member of the Trump campaign seems to have had secret meetings with the guy. All above board, they insist, but curiously, not a one of them announced by the campaign when they happened. The official American read-out of the meeting only mentioned Lavrov, and official White House photos only included him. If it weren’t for those meddling Russian photos, posted to Twitter shortly after the meeting by the state-owned TASS news agency, it would have been a lot easier to deny Kislyak had been there, or at least to say he had only sat on the sidelines. But there he is having a laugh with his buds Donald and the other Sergey.

Ah, but let’s get to the inchoate sputtering!

“This isn’t an ‘America First’ policy,” one of the officials fumed of the White House’s decision “to let the biggest perpetrator of fake news into the Oval Office.” Trump, the official added, is “either in bed with the Russians or too stupid to understand the severity of this mistake. Either way, the implications are truly terrifying.”

We’re inclined to guess that one’s the Obama holdover, but the other quotes don’t seem significantly more sympathetic to Boss Badhair.

“Yes, I admit the optics are bad—that was not intentional or anything,” one senior White House official told The Daily Beast. “I literally face-palmed with this one.”

Somehow, an administration official who spoke to the Washington Post said, the White House team was under the impression the photographer was Lavrov’s personal photographer, just taking pictures for a Kremlin scrapbook, maybe:

“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 said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Another “senior official” who spoke to the Daily Beast called the fact that American media had to rely on Russian photos of the meeting “beyond insulting, it really is,” calling the decision to exclude U.S. press “boneheaded on so many levels” and adding that the explanation for allowing TASS to be at the event strained credulity (which with this administration, seems awfully harsh — the unprecedented is now the norm, after all):

“Of course they knew what TASS was, everybody does,” the official said. “If they didn’t then it’s a pretty shameful admission, honestly.”

Again, we’re going to take a wild guess and say that must be the Obama guy, who still suffers from a pre 11-9 mindset. And far too much confidence in what people in TrumpWorld “know.”

Still, it’s nice to know, for the sake of balance, that butthurt regarding the TASS photographer goes both ways: Thursday, a spokesman for Lavrov was very, very upset the Washington Post had suggested the photographer might have had hidden electronic eavesdropping devices in his equipment:

Talk about your new frontiers in international cooperation! For all their differences, at least Americans and Russians can come together in using unbelievably shitty Holocaust references.

[Daily Beast / WaPo]

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