The Slatest

Lavrov Continues Russian Tradition of Laughing at U.S. Election Concerns

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Treaty Room at the State Department on Wednesday in Washington.

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In a development that would be dismissed as a little too on-the-nose for the Hollywood version of this story, the foreign minister of Russia is in town Wednesday for meetings with the Trump administration, the day after President Trump fired the man in charge of investigating links between his campaign and Russia.

Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with Trump himself will be closed to the press, though we did get these photos from the Russian foreign ministry. This White House has not yet released any images:

Lavrov did speak during brief photo op with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday morning. In response to a reporter’s shouted question about whether James Comey’s firing would “cast a shadow” over his visit, Lavrov mockingly responded, “Was he fired? You’re kidding!” before walking out shaking his head.

Lavrov is known for his sarcastic sense of humor, but in general, the Kremlin’s communications strategy when it comes to questions about its role in the 2016 U.S. election seems to be: treat them with mocking contempt.

When asked in March if Russia had interfered in the election, President Vladimir Putin replied, “Read my lips: no,”  an answer that obviously has some history in U.S. politics. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has suggested Americans ask themselves, “Are we that weak that a country can interfere in our domestic affairs and influence our electoral system?”.He has also accused the U.S. media of “hysteria” and dismissed the hearings into Russian election interference as a “broken record.”

Sorry this is all so tedious for you guys.

Update, May 10, 2017: Right on cue, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer caught up with Putin, wearing full hockey regalia, in Sochi, and asked him what impact Comey’s firing would have on U.S.-Russia relations. “Your question looks very funny for me. Don’t be angry with me. We have nothing to do with that,” he replied, with Peskov translating.