FACT-CHECK: Shep Smith’s Fake ‘Debunking’ of Uranium One Story Ends in Humiliation, Embarrassment

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Fox News’ Shepard Smith drew applause from liberal media outlets Tuesday in a “fact check” marred with mispronunciations and misrepresentations.

Smith, one of Fox’s top liberals and who frequently opposes the network’s narratives, spoke at length on his show Shepard Smith Reports after Attorney General Jeff Sessions floated the idea of a special counsel to investigate recent revelations surrounding the 2010 partial sale of Canadian firm Uranium One to Russian energy giant Rosatom. The sale was approved by the Obama administration as it included the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium to the Russian giant.

In laying out the widely reported story, Smith mispronounced the name of the Canadian investor at the center of the scandal (calling him ‘Gweh-strah,’ then ‘Gwy-strah’ instead of the correct ‘Joo-strah’); the name of the government body that reviewed the deal (‘Si-fuhs’ instead of the correct ‘Sif-ee-us); and the name of a senior State Department official involved in the review (‘Fernando’ instead of the accurate ‘Fernandez’). Smith also incorrectly describes Uranium One is a South African company. It was Canadian and is now, in fact, a Russian state-owned company.

The details of the Uranium One story have received broad coverage from outlets such as the New York Times and considerable attention on Fox News, including a one-hour special hosted by Bret Baier which aired in 2015 on the release of the book Clinton Cash.

Among the many things Smith objected to was Clinton’s ability to influence the deal’s approval. “The Clinton State Department had no power to approve or veto that transaction. It could do neither,” he said.

He correctly states that it was CFIUS — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States — that made the decision. CFIUS is a cabinet-level committee consisting of representatives from several Departments and Agencies, including the Secretaries of the Treasury, State, Defense, etc. Smith claims that State was only one member and that the real decision was the President’s. However, Smith’s claim is misleading. While the final decision technically rests with the White House, CFIUS traditionally, and as far as is publicly known, operates by unanimous consent. Crucially, any one member can block a transaction. Such a “veto” can only be undone by the President, though there is no known case of the President overruling CFIUS since the committee was set up in 1975. In short, the Clinton State Department had the power to effectively gut the deal.

Hillary Clinton, in particular, has a history of resisting these sorts of deals. In one high profile case, a Dubai-based company withdrew from a deal that would put it in charge of several major US ports after a major public outcry. Then-Senator Hillary Clinton was an outspoken critic of the deal and went so far as to co-author a bill blocking the sale. In the case of Uranium One, an objection from a sitting committee member would have been crippling for the deal.

It is only by ignoring this de facto veto that Smith can dismiss Clinton’s role in the approval. Of course, his overall point that her corruption is somehow less severe because she was only one vote is irrelevant to the allegation being made. The particular circumstances of the decision are irrelevant — bribery statutes apply no matter how close the vote.

Smith also claims that the majority of the donations to the Clinton Foundation came via Frank Giustra — a mining financier who sold his stake in the uranium company before it was sold and before Clinton became secretary of State. “The timing is inaccurate,” Smith complains.

But it is Smith who is being inaccurate. As noted in Clinton Cash and the New York Times, the Clintons helped Giustra acquire Kazakh uranium assets in 2005. Mukhtar Dzhakishev, then head of the Kazakh state nuclear agency, who met with the Clintons in Chappaqua, declared in 2010 that Hillary Clinton extorted and pressured Kazakh officials to grant those uranium concessions to Giustra. Shortly after they granted those concessions, $30 million was dropped into Clinton Foundation coffers by Giustra.
Smith never mentions any of this.

“The timing is inaccurate” only if you exclude key events.

Smith also fails to account for the fact that Uranium One’s Chairman Ian Telfer moved $2.3 million, much it undisclosed, to the Clinton Foundation as the deal was being reviewed by CFIUS. Furthermore, Smith falsely claims that the Clinton Foundation disclosed these donations to the charity but simply forgot to reveal the individual names of the donors. This is entirely false.

But Smith is not done excluding key facts which confirm the timing of funds flowing to the Clintons. Smith also strangely omits the $500,000 speaking fee Bill Clinton was paid by a Russian bank involved with Uranium One during the review process.

So, was Hillary Clinton involved in the Uranium One CFIUS review? Smith says we can take her word that she wasn’t and then trots out former Assistant Secretary of State Fernandez to say her hands are clean. Smith never bothers to describe to his audience who Fernandez actually is. A quick search of the Podesta emails on Wikileaks reveals him to be a Clinton partisan, writing to Podesta “I would like to do all I can to support Secretary Clinton and would welcome your advice and help in steering me to the right persons in the campaign.” Those words were written less than a week before Fernandez first went public with his declaration of Clinton’s innocence. One would expect Fox News viewers to be interested in such information.

But Smith isn’t done with his misrepresentations or falsehoods. He then boldly declares that no uranium from Uranium One’s US mines has left the country. A simple look at reporting by the New York Times and The Hill reveals that, in fact, it has happened on multiple occasions. Again, one would expect this to be of interest to Fox News viewers.

Fact checks should include all major transactions that relate to the question at hand. One can only wonder why Shepard Smith decided to include misleading analysis while excluding central facts which run counter to the claims he is making.

You can watch Smith’s alleged debunking below:


Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson


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