Trump lawyer demands MSNBC retract report alleging banking ties to Russian oligarchs

An attorney for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE on Wednesday demanded a retraction and apology following an MSNBC report alleging the president obtained loans from Deutsche Bank with Russian oligarchs as co-signers.

Charles Harder sent a letter to NBCUniversal saying the remarks made Tuesday night on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellLawrence O'DonnellMSNBC political analyst Karine Jean-Pierre joins Biden campaign Wallace says Biden gave 'skillful' answer on advice to voters on Reade Trevor Noah mocks Kamala Harris for 'hostage-style video' endorsement of Biden MORE" were false and defamatory, according to a copy of the letter made public by Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi.

O'Donnell walked back his reporting on Wednesday after Harder's letter was circulated.

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"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," he tweeted.

 
“I may have some information, in this next hour, which would add a great deal to their understanding of that, if true, and I’ll be discussing it here,” O’Donnell said. "I stress ‘if true,’ because this is a single source who has told me that Deutsche Bank obtained tax returns."
 
"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," he added.

“What? Really?” Maddow said.

"That would explain every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHere's why reporters are not asking the White House about 'Obamagate' Postponed Russian World War II victory parade now set for June America's post-COVID-19 foreign policy MORE," O'Donnell added. “I stress the ‘if true.'"
 
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“The source close to Deutsche Bank said that the co-signers of Donald Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin,” the host later said. “If true, that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin’s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTop Democratic pollster advised Biden campaign to pick Warren as VP Longtime Democratic pollster: Warren 'obvious solution' for Biden's VP pick How Obama just endorsed Trump MORE.”
 
O'Donnell, a staunch critic of the president, said later in the program that the story will "need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact."
 
Deutsche Bank said in a court filing Tuesday that it has tax returns relevant to House Democrats' subpoenas for financial records of Trump, his family and his businesses. The bank did not publicly identify whose returns it had.

The name or names of the individuals or entities whose tax returns are in Deutsche Bank's possession were redacted in the version of the document posted on the federal courts' public legal database.

The White House on Wednesday condemned O'Donnell's report.
 
“This is one of the reasons that a majority of Americans have lost trust in the media," White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamPence names new press secretary McEnany: Prayer 'made a lot of difference' in 2016 election McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation MORE told Fox News media reporter Brian Flood. "Instead of applying ethics and standards to their reporting, journalists and left-wing outlets have weaponized the media, using it to attack and harass people with little to no regard for the truth."
 
MSNBC declined to comment when it was contacted Wednesday by The Hill before O'Donnell's tweet.
 
The details of O'Donnell's report have not been verified by NBC News, according to a tweet by MSNBC "Morning Joe" producer Mike Del Moro on Wednesday morning.
“Deutsche Bank is declining to comment on Lawrence O’Donnell’s reporting that Russian oligarchs 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,” Del Moro tweeted.
 
MSNBC has seen a ratings decline since the Mueller report was made public in April. The network, particularly Maddow and O'Donnell, had focused much of its reporting on possible collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian officials since now-former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE took over the investigation in May 2017.
 
While Mueller said his 22-month investigation did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, he did not make a determination as to whether the president obstructed justice. Attorney General William Barr and other Justice Department officials ultimately decided that the evidence laid out in the Mueller report did not reach the threshold to charge Trump with obstruction.

Democrats maintain it was not Barr’s choice to make and that the decision to do so falls on the House.

Updated at 4:06 p.m.