A day after President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired FBI Director James Comey, he hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House. According to a White House readout, the two discussed Syria, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and its proxies, Ukraine, and the Middle East. They also discussed Trump’s “desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia.”
The readout is curiously missing any mention of the issue roiling Washington, DC, at the moment: Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. While it’s conceivable that Trump and Lavrov did discuss that issue and that it was omitted from the readout, the White House did not respond to a question about that possibility.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday night that Trump fired Comey on the recommendation of the US Department of Justice—the agency that oversees the FBI—after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein undertook a review of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton investigation. Rosenstein then wrote a memo for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who then recommended to Trump that Comey be fired. White House officials insist the decision had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. Sessions reportedly said Wednesday that his recommendation to fire Comey didn’t violate his pledge to recuse himself from any Justice Department decision that involved the Russia investigation.
The timing of Comey’s firing has raised a lot of questions. The move came the same day that associates of former Trump National Security Adviser Mike Flynn were reportedly served with subpoenas as part of the investigation into his connections with Russia—and a day after it was reported that several Trump associates have failed to turn over records requested by the Senate intelligence committee as part of its open investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
On the other hand, the White House clearly want nothing more than for Comey’s dismissal to signal the end of the Russia scandal. “Frankly, it’s kind of getting absurd,” White House Deputy Spokesperson Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Tuesday night. “It’s time to move on and, frankly, it’s time to focus on the things the American people care about.”