Let’s not ascribe intent or malice in the place of deluded bumbling. As far as the White House thought, the meeting was supposed to be private, except that the Russians said they were bringing an official photographer so Trump team invited theirs. The fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry posts obsessively to a Flickr page, or Russia has been playing Trump all along, or there is no Russian division between media and state, or Russia would use the photos for something other than a thank you card seemed to escape the Trump communicators entirely. Given that cluelessness, you’ve got to love this administration quote (via WAPO): “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.”
Excuse me if the statement reminded me of the “Mad Hatted.” It’s the same ignorance that caused a political uproar after Trump’s meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister during the transition, given Ivanka Trump’s prominent presence. In that instance, Mr. Abe showed up with a photographer and a translator, and the photos were distributed the next day as official handouts of the Japanese Government Press Office.
Nothing like learning from your mistakes.