Fox News’s Shepard Smith tore to pieces the lie about Hillary Clinton "selling uranium to Russia," which his own network has been using to try to distract from Donald Trump’s scandals.
As the Russia investigation has heated up, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have increasingly clung to the discredited Uranium One "scandal" as a means of changing the subject to their favorite target, Hillary Clinton.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions even explored appointing a second special counsel to investigate the matter — a gross abuse of law enforcement power for political targeting that he later backed off from under questioning in testimony to the House.
The basic premise of the non-story is that while Clinton led the State Department, she approved the sale of a uranium company to Russia, after the company’s investors had donated to her family’s charitable foundation.
But the controversy is completely baseless — and Fox News’s own Shepard Smith gave a lengthy explanation why:
Fox's Shep Smith takes apart the Uranium One conspiracy his Fox News colleagues have been relentlessly hyping pic.twitter.com/HZBlBtFvo4
— Media Matters (@mmfa) November 14, 2017
To begin with, as Smith pointed out, Uranium One was actually a Canadian company that happens to have had holdings in U.S. uranium mines. It was not an American company and the sale did not involve the export of uranium, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission explicitly blocked.
Second, as Smith said, "The Clinton State Department had no power to approve or veto that transaction." Clinton sat on a board called the Committee on Foreign Investments, which includes nine government department heads and advises the president on foreign transactions that impact national security.
"The nine department heads all approved the sale of Uranium One," Smith noted. "It was unanimous. Not a Hillary Clinton approval. We don’t know definitively whether Secretary Clinton participated at all directly."
Even if Clinton had objected, it likely wouldn't have mattered. "By law, if one member objects, the president, and only the president, can veto such a transaction,” Smith explained.
Essentially, the Uranium One "scandal" posits that Clinton was bribed to use or not use a power she did not even have.
As for the claim that investors had donated to the Clinton Foundation, that doesn't hold water, either.
"Here, the timing is inaccurate," said Smith. "Most of those donations were from one man: Frank Oestra, the founder of the company in Canada. He gave $131 million to the Clinton Foundation. But Oestra says he sold his stake in the company back in 2007. That’s three years before the uranium/Russia deal, and a year and a half before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State."
And again, as Smith reminded viewers, "The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia."
With this explanation, Smith brilliantly and brutally smacked down all of his fellow hosts at Fox who have been pushing the Uranium One story hard. But the mere fact that this has to be relitigated again is amazing — all the key elements of this scandal were debunked two and a half years ago.
The GOP is desperate for any method of deflecting from Trump’s current problems. Their attempt to recycle this story from the election is transparent and doomed — as Smith demonstrated.