The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in killing Harambe the gorilla, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and others, including Harambe’s own caretaker, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost the nearby Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s profits.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one zoo over the other,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions, with White House officials concerned about escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Columbus Zoo’s revenues.
The Trump transition team dismissed the findings in a short statement issued Friday evening. “These are the same people that said Cecil the Lion had teeth of mass destruction. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make Columbus Zoo Great Again,’ ” the statement read.
Trump has consistently dismissed the intelligence community’s findings about Russia.
“I don’t believe they interfered” in the killing of Harambe, he told Time magazine this week. The killing, he said, “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
If this doesn’t sound believable, then get a load of this.