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MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell opened his show on Wednesday night with a mea culpa for a claim he made one night earlier, when he said that — based on a single source — “Russian oligarchs” co-signed a loan for Donald Trump, as shown by tax records possessed by Deutsche Bank.
“Last night on this show I discussed information that wasn’t ready for reporting,” said O’Donnell . “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.”
He continued: “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.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the president’s personal attorney, Charles Harder, sent NBC attorneys a demand for a retraction, correction and apology.
“Tonight, we are retracting the story,” the MSNBC host said.
Deutsche Bank declined comment on the veracity of the claim. “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate,” O’Donnell said. “But the fact is, we do know it wasn’t ready for broadcast. And for that, I apologize.”
The veteran progressive pundit had already apologized for the story on Twitter, saying that he would address the matter further on his show.
MSNBC has not commented on O’Donnell’s claim, other than to point to his tweet clearing it up. There’s no evidence that he is facing any internal punishment.
But the claim has quickly turned into a political football, drawing howls of protest from conservatives and members of the Trump family.
“This was a reckless attempt to slander our family and smear a great company,” Eric Trump, an executive for the Trump Organization, wrote on Twitter. “Apologies are not enough when the true intent was solely to damage and cause harm. As a company, we will be taking legal action. This unethical behavior has to stop.”