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Russian foreign minister jokes about Comey in Washington: 'Was he fired?'

  • Sergey Lavrov visits Washington amid the firestorm over James Comey's firing.
  • Lavrov jokes when asked about the firing, "Was he fired?"
  • The FBI is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Russia's foreign minister came to Washington on Wednesday amid a political firestorm over the surprise ouster of FBI Director James Comey, and greeted questions about the topic with humor.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questioned the timing of President Donald Trump's decision to remove Comey, which the White House said was due to the FBI chief's conduct during the probe into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information last year. Democrats, in particular, said the move came as the FBI investigates Russia's alleged meddling in the election, including possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The administration said the FBI's Russia probe was not a factor in the FBI director's dismissal, but during the final days of the election, Trump had praised Comey's announcement about the Clinton probe. Clinton blames Comey's announcement in part for her loss to Trump.

Standing with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department on Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov was asked if Comey's firing "casts a shadow" on the diplomatic visit.

"Was he fired? You're kidding," Lavrov said in a deadpan before shrugging and turning to walk away next to Tillerson.

Lavrov will meet with Trump at the White House later Wednesday morning.

Tuesday's firing intensified Democratic calls for an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election.