MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell complied with demands from President Donald Trump’s lawyer on his show Wednesday night and retracted his report from the night before that Russian oligarchs co-signed Deutsche Bank loans given to Trump and his real estate company.
O’Donnell also issued an apology for the story and said it “wasn’t ready for reporting.”
Trump’s personal attorney, Charles Harder, demanded the retraction and apology for the report earlier Wednesday and said it was “false and defamatory.”
O’Donnell cited a single source close to Deutsche Bank, Trump’s longtime lender, who said the president’s tax returns and other financial documents showed Russian businessmen close to Russian President Vladimir Putin had backed some of the loans to Trump. O’Donnell said at the end of his show Tuesday that NBC News had not verified his report and it would require further confirmation. (RELATED: MSNBC Host Floats Bombshell Trump-Russia Report, Later Says It Requires ‘Further Verification’)
Harder denied O’Donnell’s claim in a letter to NBCUniversal and said Trump was the only guarantor for the loans.
Harder threatened legal action against O’Donnell and NBCUniversal, the parent company of MSNBC, if a retraction and apology were not issued within 24 hours. O’Donnell said on Twitter after Harder submitted the letter he would address the issue on Wednesday’s show.
O’Donnell offered up his mea culpa at the top of the show. He said:
Last night on this show I discussed information that wasn’t ready for reporting. I repeated statements a single source told me about the president’s finances and loan documents with Deutsche Bank. Saying, ‘If true,’ as I discussed the information was not good enough. I did not go through the rigorous verification and standards process here at MSNBC before repeating what I heard from my source. Had it gone through that process, I would not have been permitted to report it. I should not have said it on air or posted it on Twitter. I was wrong to do so. This afternoon attorneys for the president sent us a letter asserting the story is false. They also demanded a retraction. Tonight we are retracting the story. We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate. But the fact is, we do know it wasn’t ready for broadcast, and for that I apologize.
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