Fox News anchor Shepard Smith fact-checked White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani for one of the central claims defenders of the president make to undermine the legitimacy of the Russian investigation.
Shep vs. Rudy
Smith said that Giuliani was incorrect in claiming that the impetus behind the special counsel's Russian investigation was solely on account of the infamous "Trump dossier."
"Much of Giuliani’s attack on [John] Brennan involved the dossier compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele, that the administration has repeatedly asserted was what began the Russia investigation," Smith said.
"It was not," he contended.
"The Russia investigation began after the former Trump policy adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that the Russians had dirt on his then-political opponent Hillary Clinton," Smith explained. "That information was passed on to intelligence officials."
"Giuliani calls that dossier 'laughable.' For context, the research in the dossier includes 17 memos produced by the former spy, Christopher Steele," Smith added. "They allege misconduct and a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election."
"Some assertions in the dossier have been confirmed," he said, "other parts are unconfirmed, none of the dossier, to Fox News' knowledge, has been disproven."
Why is this important?
Allies of the president have said that the "Trump dossier" has been discredited because it was funded by Trump's political opponents, and created by a person who was hostile to the president and his agenda. If it were to be completely discredited, and if the Russian investigation was based solely on evidence in the dossier, it would undercut the legitimacy of the special counsel's investigation.
Here's part of Smith's commentary:
Sean Hannity lies about the Russia investigation at night on Fox News, Shep Smith debunks his false claims during t… https://t.co/HCtHgg2Cbb— Media Matters (@Media Matters)1534363164.0
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) addressed the debate directly in February while appearing on Fox News.
"If you have enough without the dossier, then why did you include the dossier?" he asked rhetorically.
"If you have enough without the dossier, why did you, in your court filing, lead with the dossier?" he continued. "Lawyers don't start with their weakest argument."