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Photos of Trump's closed-door meeting with Russian officials raise eyebrows

Trump meets with Russians
Photos of Trump, Russian officials getting a lot of attention 03:11

A set of pictures getting a lot of attention shows President Trump sharing a laugh at the White House on Wednesday with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

Kislyak is a key figure in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether there was any collusion with Team Trump.

The photos were Russian. No American press attended.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted a photo of a handshake between Mr. Trump and Lavrov:

The Russian Embassy then followed up with a tweeted photo of Mr. Trump shaking hands with Kislyak:

CBS News' Anthony Mason spoke with foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan at the U.S. State Department and correspondent Elizabeth Palmer in Sochi, Russia.

How the meeting came to be

CBS News' Margaret Brennan and Elizabeth Palmer CBS News

"White House officials say that last week during a phone call, Vladimir Putin personally asked President Trump to meet with his top diplomat Sergey Lavrov," Brennan said. "The meeting in the Oval Office lasted around 30 minutes."

Brennan reported that Mr. Trump said Tuesday's firing of FBI Director James Comey had no influence on the meeting and the fact the president made the invitation despite the controversy shows how deeply he wants to improve frayed relations with Russia.

"They've been shunned and under sanction for some years now in Washington ... so this was their very big, very sweet public comeback moment," Palmer said of Russia. "They made sure everybody saw that picture."

Surprise over images

"We later learned that the White House -- by their own admission -- was misled," Brennan said. "Russia told them that a state media agency photographer was actually the official government photographer."

"You have to bear in mind that this is a hugely experienced team around President Putin," Palmer said. "They know how to play this game ... hoping that the candidate they clearly favored in the U.S. election -- Donald Trump -- will bring them in from the cold with the endgame of course to get those sanctions lifted."

For more on this discussion, watch the video above.

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