The Trump/ Putin bromance upon which the belligerent businessman Donald Trump rode into the White House has not lasted.
The U.S. government just recently ordered the closure of a number of Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States, following a similar move from the Russian government ordering U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia to close and U.S. diplomats to leave the country.
Russia’s move was in retaliation for a new wave of sanctions imposed by the U.S. government in response to Russian election meddling and their invasion of the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. President Trump was basically strong armed into signing the sanctions into law, since, in a feat of bipartisanship, they were passed with a veto proof majority in Congress.
This Friday, there is a new development in this ongoing tit for tat — dark black smoke was seen billowing out of the chimney of the Russian consulate in San Francisco, which is among those ordered closed.
The fire was not for innocent purposes. The Friday afternoon temperature in San Francisco is over 90 degrees — meaning it wasn’t for heating purposes — and fire officials who arrived at the consulate building on Friday were turned away by consulate officials, who told them that the fire was a controlled burn of items that they did not identify to fire officials.
San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Mindy Talamadge reiterated these suspicious details to reporters, stating, plain and simply, that the fire was “not unintentional,” adding that “they had something burning in their fireplace.”
The fact that it wasn’t immediately clear to observers that the smoke was coming out of the chimney is what led to the interactions between the fire officials and the consulate officials.
The question remains — what were they burning? Consular properties often fall under suspicion since they harbor secure lines of communications between envoys of foreign governments and their home countries.
These lines of communication are not necessarily subject to ordinary U.S. government surveillance practices. For instance, when busting a Russian spy ring in the U.S. some years ago, the FBI handed off faked documents to a suspect that were housed in a binder that contained a listening device which was then carried into a Russian government building in the U.S.
The Russia scandal is obviously ongoing, and in theory, those at the consulate could have been sending documentation of their election meddling activities up in smoke.
The consulate is scheduled to be vacated by Saturday. It will close, along with Russian trade missions housed in Washington and New York.
Check out an image of the smoke billowing out from the soon-to-be-closed Russian embassy below.
Check out Twitter’s unsurprisingly suspicion-laced reply below.
Featured Image via Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images