Following a statement earlier in the day that he made “an error in judgement,” on Wednesday night Lawrence O’Donnell formally retracted a story about loans Donald Trump received from Deutsche Bank.
“Last night on this show, I discussed information that wasn’t ready for reporting,” he said on “The Last Word,” his MSNBC show. “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 simply 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,” O’Donnell continued. “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,” O’Donnell concluded.
On Tuesday’s show, O’Donnell said a “single source close to Deutsche Bank” told him that loan documents show Trump was able to obtains his loans because unnamed Russian oligarchs cosigned for him. “I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this,” O’Donnell clarified. “This is just a single source who has revealed that to me and that’s where that stands at this point. It’s going to need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact.”
In response, on Wednesday morning an attorney for Trump, Charles Harder, sent the network a letter threatening to sue for defamation unless the story was retracted.
According to the New York Times, for almost 20 years the bank was the only financial institution willing to lend Trump money due to his long, documented record of defaulting on loans; Trump’s dealings with the bank are currently being investigated by two congressional committees.
Harder did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on O’Donnell’s apology and retraction.