UPDATED with Doald Trump’s reaction via Twitter: At the start of his MSNBC show The Last Word on Wednesday, host Lawrence O’Donnell apologized for his report that Russian billionaires co-signed Deutsche Bank loans to Donald Trump, hours after one of the president’s lawyers issued a legal threat and demanded a retraction.
O’Donnell said that his single-sourced story from Tuesday night “wasn’t ready for broadcast, and for that, I apologize.”
“I should not have said it on air or posted it on Twitter.”
“Tonight we are retracting the story,” he told viewers. He said that he does not know if the story is true, but it was not ready for primetime. “Saying, ‘if true,’ was simply not good enough,” he said.
Lawrence O'Donnell Admits 'Error In Judgment' Over Donald Trump
As expected, Trump seized on the O’Donnell apology on Thursday morning, but he extended his grievances to “the rest of the LameStream Media.”
He wrote on Twitter, “Crazy Lawrence O’Donnell, who has been calling me wrong from even before I announced my run for the Presidency, even being previously forced by NBC to apologize, which he did while crying, for things he said about me & The Apprentice, was again forced to apologize, this time…..for the most ridiculous claim of all, that Russia, Russia, Russia, or Russian oligarchs, co-signed loan documents for me, a guarantee. Totally false, as is virtually everything else he, and much of the rest of the LameStream Media, has said about me for years. ALL APOLOGIZE!”
Fifteen minutes later, he addressed the issue again.
“The totally inaccurate reporting by Lawrence O’Donnell, for which he has been forced by NBC to apologize, is NO DIFFERENT than the horrible, corrupt and fraudulent Fake News that I (and many millions of GREAT supporters) have had to put up with for years. So bad for the USA!”
Trump is scheduled to guest on Brian Kilmeade’s Fox News Radio show on Thursday morning, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he addressed O’Donnell’s apology again.
Earlier on Wednesday, one of Trump’s lawyers, Charles Harder, fired off a letter to NBC, demanding a retraction and apology over the reporting. Hours later, O’Donnell walked back the claim in a tweet.
“Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process,” he wrote on Twitter. “I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air. I will address the issue on my show tonight.”
O’Donnell’s report on Tuesday quickly drew scrutiny because it was such an explosive piece of news, ostensibly giving credence to speculation and theories bandied about by critics of Trump — that he somehow is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But later in his show, O’Donnell hedged a bit.
“Now, I want to stress, that’s a single source,” he said. “This has not been confirmed by NBC News. I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this. This is just a single source who has revealed 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.”
Harder, who has fired off other letters for the president to journalists and book authors for their coverage, wrote to NBCU’ EVP and General Counsel Susan E. Weiner and SVP Litigation Daniel M. Kummer that the statements that O’Donnell made “are false and defamatory, and extremely damaging.”
“The only borrowers under these loans are Trump entities, and Mr. Trump is the only guarantor,’ Harder wrote. “Numerous documents for each of these loans are also recorded, publicly available and searchable online. Thus, actual malice can easily be proven based on your reckless disregard of the truth and unreasonable reliance on an alleged ‘source’ who you will not even identify in your story and likely is seeking to mislead you and the public for political reasons or other ulterior motives.”
The incident drew the attention of Sean Hannity, who devoted a segment of it on his Fox News show. Predictably, he blasted O’Donnell and MSNBC, but also found room to take down CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC in his monologue.
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