On the heels of Deutsche Bank confirming that it has tax returns responsive to the congressional subpoenas President Donald Trump is challenging in court, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell claimed that one unnamed source “close to Deutsche Bank” told him that Trump was only able to get the loans because they were co-signed by Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin.
The claim immediately sparked another “if true” news cycle. O’Donnell himself made sure to repeatedly emphasize “if true” regarding the information he was reporting, information that he said “would explain, it seems to me, every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin.”
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) August 28, 2019
“[I]f true, and I stress the if true part of this,” O’Donnell hedged.
True or not, the story spread like wildfire. Here’s a sampling of some of the major reactions.
“If this is true, Trump cannot remain POTUS”
If this is true, Trump cannot remain POTUS. He has a direct personal financial conflict that prevents from acting ONLY in the best interests of the U.S., and is also beholden to foreign influence. I explained why the Framers believed this is a no-no, here https://t.co/yn4bSo6SaY
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) August 28, 2019
All partisan suspicions about Trump’s tax returns have been confirmed.
Boom. Everything we thought about Trump’s tax returns. He needed Russian co-signers for loans. https://t.co/9MPoUczOdC
— Andrew C Laufer, Esq (@lauferlaw) August 28, 2019
“Impeachment is just the start.”
So now we have Russians co-signing Trump’s loans. The mountain of Criminality is overwhelming. Impeachment is just the start. Vote him out. Then indict him. America deserves a President who isn’t a Liar, a Racist, and a Traitor.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) August 28, 2019
That time twice-convicted felon/former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stumbled all over himself to say that Trump had no financial relationships with Russian oligarchs.
I'd say my favorite part of the news that Trump's Deutsche Bank-held loans were co-signed by Russian oligarchs is this:pic.twitter.com/usJsUgrRa7
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) August 28, 2019
If Lawrence O’Donnell is right, “bonfire of ethical — if not legal — issues for the White House.”
If what @Lawrence has is on target, there are multiple Russian oligarchs who guaranteed Trump’s loans. At a minimum, that creates a bonfire of ethical — If not legal — issues for the White House: pic.twitter.com/NcbjyIntre
— Tim O'Brien (@TimOBrien) August 28, 2019
The claim, “if true,” fits what’s been asserted for years.
Single source report tonight by @Lawrence, when I was his opening guest, of Russian co-signers on Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans fits w/ what I’ve been saying for years.
Judge should review loan docs in chambers. If true, judge can – and should – put in public record ASAP.
— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) August 28, 2019
People shouldn’t be surprised by this because it’s been discussed.
I have no idea why people are surprised by this "news". We've been discussing it for years. We all knew Deutsche Bank was the only bank that would loan to him, that Deutsche Bank is involved in Russian mafia money-laundering, and that Trump partners with mobsters and oligarchs.
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) August 28, 2019
On Wednesday, Morning Joe’s booking producer said that Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the O’Donnell report [ensuing emphasis ours].
“The information came from a single source who has not seen the bank records,” Michael Del Moro said. “NBC has not seen those records and has not been able to verify the reporting.”
Deutsche Bank is declining to comment on Lawrence O’Donnell’s reporting that Russian oligarch’s co-signed Trump’s loans. The information came from a single source who has not seen the bank records. NBC has not seen those records and has not yet been able to verify the reporting.
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) August 28, 2019
UPDATE: O’Donnell retracted the report and apologized on his Wednesday night show.
“Last night on this show I discussed information that wasn’t ready for reporting. I did not go through the rigorous verification and standards process here at MSNBC before repeating what I heard from my source,” O’Donnell said. “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.“
“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,” he said.
[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]