The State Department issued a joint statement on Wednesday from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of a closed-door meeting.
“Welcome to the State Department,” Tillerson said.
“Thank you,” Lavrov said. “Thank you very much.”
According to the transcript, someone asked a question about the firing of FBI Director James Comey, but Tillerson interrupted.
“I want to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to the State Department and express my appreciation for him making the trip to Washington so that we can continue our dialogue and our exchange of views that began in Moscow with the dialogue he hosted on a very broad range of topics,” Tillerson said. “Thank you.”
An unidentified person asks again: “Does the Comey firing cast a shadow on your talks, gentlemen?”
“Was he fired?” Lavrov asked.
“Yes,” the unidentified person said.
“You are kidding,” Lavrov said. “You are kidding.”
Comey reportedly also thought those giving him the news that he had lost his job were kidding when reports surfaced that President Donald Trump had removed him from office, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Comey was speaking to FBI employees in Los Angeles when the news appeared on a television news program, the newspaper reported.
At first, Comey laughed, then “stepped into a side office, where he confirmed that he had been fired,” the report added.
In a letter to Comey, Trump said, “it is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”
Trump’s move came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended that Comey be fired due to his conduct in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information during her tenure as Secretary of State.
The White House said its search for Comey’s successor is already under way.