President Donald Trump is through his attorneys officially demanding a retraction from MSNBC for claims that host Lawrence O’Donnell made that they say are false about the president.
Trump’s demand, made through his attorneys, comes after O’Donnell claimed on television on Tuesday evening that Trump had “Russian oligarchs” as co-signers on loans:
A source close to Deutsche Bank says Trump’s tax returns show he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans have Russian co-signers.
If true, that explains every kind word Trump has ever said about Russia and Putin. @TheLastWord 10pm
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) August 28, 2019
He cited a “single source” to make the claim. From RealClearPolitics’ report on the segment:
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell said Tuesday that a “single source close to Deutsche Bank” told him that President Donald Trump’s loans were co-signed by “Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.”
“If true,” O’Donnell said, “that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin’s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”
He also said “this single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that Donald Trump’s loan documents there show that he has co-signers. That’s how he was able to obtain those loans. And that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow acted surprised, saying: “What? Really?”
Later in the show, he added: “The source close to Deutsche Bank says that the co-signers of Donald Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.”
The claim drew sharp criticism from several, including even NBC and MSNBC personnel who said they cannot stand by O’Donnell’s claims:
I understand why reporters often rely on anonymous sources, and so long as they have multiple sources with direct knowledge/evidence of an event, its fair game IMO.
But single sourcing "scoops" with no evidence/direct knowledge is indefensible & should be rejected by everyone. https://t.co/qBjrso3072
— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) August 28, 2019
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
“This law firm is litigation counsel for President Donald J. Trump (‘Mr. Trump’) and The Trump Organization (‘Trump Org.’),” Charles Harder of Harder LLP law firm wrote to MSNBC executives, in a letter obtained by Breitbart News. “We write concerning the false and defamatory statements published by Lawrence O’Donnell and NBC Universal (‘NBCU’) (collectively, ‘you’ and ‘your’) about Mr. Trump and Trump Org. in an episode of the program, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, which was broadcasted on or about August 27, 2019 (the ‘Program’), and also published by Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU in a tweet posted on that same date (the ‘Tweet’). The Program and Tweet make the false and defamatory statements that ‘Russian oligarchs’ cosigned loans provided to Mr. Trump by Deutsche Bank, and described these ‘co-signers’ as ‘Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.’”
Harder writes that the statements from O’Donnell and MSNBC are “false and defamatory.”
“These statements are false and defamatory, and extremely damaging,” the president’s lawyer wrote. “The only borrowers under these loans are Trump entities, and Mr. Trump is the only guarantor. 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.”
As such, Harder wrote that Trump is demanding a retraction and apology from MSNBC and O’Donnell.
“Demand is hereby made that Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements,” Harder’s letter continues.
The letter concludes by noting that MSNBC must preserve all documents in the case of litigation as a result of O’Donnell’s actions.
A failure to respond and retract the statement within 24 hours, Harder wrote, would mean the president will pursue legal action against the network.
“Failure to do so will leave my clients with no alternative but to consider their legal options which could include immediate legal proceedings against Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU,” Harder wrote. “Should that occur, my clients would pursue all available causes of action and seek all available damages and other legal remedies to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
An MSNBC spokeswoman has not immediately responded to Breitbart News’ request for comment.
**UPDATE** Lawrence O’Donnell tweeted Wednesday afternoon that he “shouldn’t have reported” the claims on his program:
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. 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.
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) August 28, 2019