Washington, DC – The White House journalists were in for a surprise as the press pool was summoned just after 11:20 a.m. for what was assumed would be a spray of President Donald Trump’s meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Instead the journalists were ushered into the Oval Office at 11:26 a.m., to find Trump seated beside former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Ironic to note that the meeting with Kissinger was not on Trump’s public schedule today (May 10).
President Trump, wearing a dark suit and red striped tie, said he met with Kissinger to talk “about Russia and various other matters.”
“We’re talking about Syria and I think that we’re going to do very well with respect to Syria and things are happening that are really, really, really positive,” Trump added. “We’re going to stop the killing and the death.”
On his meeting with Secretary Kissinger, Trump concluded it was “an honor” to discuss the issues with Kissinger because “he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.”
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov
Trump said he had a “very, very good meeting” with Foreign Minister Lavrov. He said both sides want to end “the killing — the horrible, horrible killing in Syria as soon as possible and everybody is working toward that end.”
The Lavrov meeting was closed to the press and the only visual account the American press got first was via handout photos from the Russian government. Those images show Trump also met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Later in a readout of the meeting, the White House said, “President Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies.”
The meeting also had Ukraine on agenda as the readout said, “The President raised Ukraine, and expressed his Administration’s commitment to remain engaged in resolving the conflict and stressed Russia’s responsibility to fully implement the Minsk agreements.”
Emphasizing “his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia,” President Trump “also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere,” according to the readout.
Firing of FBI Director Comes
After talking about his meeting with Kissinger and Lavrov, Trump responded to two questions about his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.
Q: Mr. President, why did you fire Director Comey?
Trump: “He wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job.”
Q: Did it affect your meeting with the Russians today?
Trump: “Not at all.”
President Trump had been thinking about firing FBI Director Comey since Election Day, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told journalists in the Brady press briefing room.
Sanders said, “The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey. The DOJ lost confidence in Director Comey. Bipartisan members of Congress made it clear that they had lost confidence in Director Comey. And most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”
At the end of the day, the White House provided the following official timeline of events (on background) that led to President Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey:
· The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey.
· After watching Director Comey’s testimony last Wednesday, the President was strongly inclined to remove him.
· On Monday, the President met with the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General and they discussed reasons for removing the Director.
· The next day, Tuesday May 9, the Deputy Attorney General sent his written recommendation to the Attorney General and the Attorney General sent his written recommendation to the President.
Trump-Russia Ties Investigation
Addressing daily press briefing in lieu of White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer (who was again on Reserve duty at Navy) Sanders also clarified on the status of the ongoing investigation on Trump-Russia ties.
Sanders said, “The bottom line is any investigation that was happening on Monday is still happening today … And, in fact, we encourage them to complete this investigation so we can put it behind us and we can continue to see exactly what we’ve been saying for nearly a year, there’s no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
Sanders concluded, “We’d love for that to be completed so that we can all move on and focus on the things that, frankly, I think most of Americans are concerned with.”
The White House in the evening reiterated the utterances from press spokesperson Sanders that President Trump met behind closed doors this afternoon (May 10) with acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe at the White House.