During yesterday’s meeting with Russian officials, President Trump banned all American press from attending. News outlets weren’t even allowed to take customary pre-meeting photos. But Russian state media were there. And they’ve kindly shared photos from the meeting on Flickr, complete with a Creative Commons license!
If you head over to the official White House Flickr page, you may notice something a bit less newsworthy than Trump’s controversial meeting with America’s former Cold War adversaries. Namely, you’ll find a photo of a rabbit. Specifically, Mike Pence’s rabbit, Marlon Bundo.
Yes, while the White House Flickr page is posting photos of a rabbit, the Russian Foreign Ministry Flickr page shows us Russian officials Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak sharing a laugh with President Trump yesterday.
Former US intelligence officials voiced their displeasure with letting Russian media and camera equipment into the Oval Office. Frankly, it’s a security nightmare. But at least we know that Marlon Bundo, a rabbit that the White House Flickr account explains also goes by the name BOTUS, recently visited the White House for the first time.
The Trump team says they had no idea that the photographers accompanying the Russian delegation were working for Russian state media, which doesn’t exactly lend credibility to the idea that the Oval Office is now surveillance-free.
“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,” a Trump regime official told the Washington Post.
But security issues aside, the bigger slap in the face was the fact that not only were US media barred from taking photos or attending any part of the meet-and-greet, the White House didn’t even issue its own photos from the event.
During the last administration (remember that Obama guy?) the White House regularly posted photos to Flickr, a service that the Trump White House has only recently started to use sparingly. The Trump regime is now posting just a single photo per day.
But if you pull up the official White House Flickr page today, you’d have no idea that President Trump met with Russian officials, let alone that Washington is in a state of utter chaos after Trump unceremoniously fired FBI director James Comey on Tuesday.
Well, maybe the White House just doesn’t like Flickr as much as they like other social media photo tools. How about yesterday’s Instagram shots from the official White House account?
Huh. It’s almost as if the White House wants to pretend like the meeting didn’t even happen.
American news consumers have had to rely on photos from Russian news agency TASS to see what’s going on behind closed doors at the White House—the optics of which are not great when the president is currently being investigated for ties to the Russian government.
Getty Images published the photos on its wire service with credit to TASS and photographer Alexander Shcherback. That’s the guy that White House officials apparently believed was only a private photographer.
The Russian Foreign Ministry wasn’t making any friends with Americans on other social media sites either. Earlier in the day, when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a reporter shouted a question about the firing of Comey as the two walked off. He feigned shock and mocked the reporter. The Ministry’s official Twitter account even tweeted the exchange:
When American reporters finally got to ask Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov about James Comey’s firing, later in the day, he was just as mocking in his tone.
“I never thought I’d have to answer such questions, all the more in the United States of America, with your greatly developed democratic and political system,” Lavrov said sarcastically.
“I think that it is even degrading for the American people to hear that Russia is managing the domestic policy of the U.S.,” Lavrov said. “How can a great nation, a great country, succumb to this and think in such categories?”
But keep an eye on the White House Flickr account. I’m sure they’ll post an update about Marlon Bundo soon. It’s the least the Trump regime can do as they engage in the most troubling acts of government malfeasance that the United States has seen in at least a generation.
Maybe we’ll luck out and get photos of the Pence family cats, Oreo and Pickle. I can’t wait!
Update, 3:02pm: Would you look at that? The White House just uploaded three photos from the meeting with Russian officials to Flickr. But there’s one thing that’s curiously missing. Can you spot it?
That’s right, no photos of the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, the man who’s considered to be a spy by US intelligence agencies and is at the center of so many of the controversies surrounding the Trump White House.
From the New York Times on March 2, 2017:
Mr. Kislyak’s networking success has landed him at the center of a sprawling controversy and made him the most prominent, if politically radioactive, ambassador in Washington. Two advisers to President Trump have run into trouble for not being more candid about contacts with Mr. Kislyak: Michael T. Flynn, who was forced to resign as national security adviser, and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who admitted two previously undisclosed conversations. Mr. Kislyak also met during the transition with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
Funny that the Trump White House wouldn’t share photos of the president shaking hands with that guy. Kislyak looked so happy in the photos taken by Russian media.
Maybe the White House photographer didn’t get his good side.