WATCH: With Kissinger at his side, Trump delivers first in-person response to Comey firing
The same day President Donald Trump was meeting with Russia’s foreign minister at the White House — and less than a day after firing former FBI director James Comey — the press pool captured Trump posing in the Oval Office with Henry Kissinger.
According to the pool report, journalists had expected to find Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the president’s side, but instead was invited to an unannounced meeting with Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under Richard Nixon.
Trump said he had met with Kissinger to talk “about Russia and various other matters.”
When asked why he fired Comey, Trump said, “He wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job.” This was the president’s first in-person response regarding his decision. He had tweeted initial thoughts Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The president was then asked whether the firing affected today’s meeting with Russian officials.
“Not at all,” he said.
Trump added that Kissinger has “been a friend of mine for a long time.” Shortly after winning the 2016 presidential election, Trump met Kissinger in New York to discuss “events and issues around the world.”
The press had not been permitted to witness the meeting with Lavrov, which was documented in handout photos provided by the Russian government. Seen in the photos are Trump with Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Photos of Trump's meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak just hit the Getty wire and they're all credited to Russian news agency TASS pic.twitter.com/qE9lWB6KuS
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) May 10, 2017
The White House reportedly pushed back on concerns about press access to the meeting, with a White House official saying that “our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that’s it.”
A day after Trump fired Comey, a slew of details began to emerge as journalists and politicians filled in the gaps of what was an abrupt — and rare — removal of an FBI director.
There were reports of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hiding behind bushes for a spell to avoid questions about the ouster. When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked about Comey, he said, “Was he fired? … You’re kidding.”
A CBS reporter caught Russian President Vladimir Putin at a hockey game in Sochi to ask for his reaction and whether Tuesday’s firing would affect the relationship between the two countries.
“There will be no effect,” Putin said, with a translator at his side. “Your question looks very funny for me. Don’t be angry with me. We have nothing to do with that.”
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 10, 2017
“President Trump is acting in accordance with his competence, in accordance with his law and Constitution,” he added. The Russian president then said he was going to now “play hockey with the hockey fans.”