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MSNBC's O'Donnell says he should not have reported unverified claim on air about Trump loans

Lawrence O'Donnell.
Lawrence O'Donnell speaks on his show on Aug. 27, 2019. Copyright MSNBC
Copyright MSNBC
By Adam Edelman with NBC News Politics
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The "Last Word" host acknowledged that he shouldn't have discussed the information provided by a single unnamed source because it didn't meet "our standards."


MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell said Wednesday he made an "error in judgment" and should not have reported on air Tuesday evening that President Donald Trump's financial records show that some of his loans have Russian co-signers.

O'Donnell, who hosts "The Last Word," tweeted that his reporting on Tuesday night, which cited a single unnamed source close to Deutsche Bank, did not meet "our rigorous verification and standards process."

"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," O'Donnell said.

He added he would address the issue on his show on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday night, O'Donnell reported that the unnamed source close to Deutsche Bank revealed to him that loans taken out by Trump were co-signed by "Russian billionaires."

NBC News has not viewed the Deutsche Bank records and has not been able to verify what the source told O'Donnell.

Later in the show, O'Donnell returned to the subject and said the claim was "going to need a lot more verification before it's a provable fact."

Responding to O'Donnell's reporting, an attorney for Trump sent a letter on Wednesday to NBC News calling the segment "false and defamatory" and demanding the host "immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize" for the statements.

The attorney, Charles Harder, added that "the only borrowers under these loans are Trump entities, and Mr. Trump is the only guarantor."

O'Donnell's reporting referred to tax returns and financial records tied to Trump that Deutsche Bank said Tuesday it possessed. The bank's statement was the latest development related to an effort by House Democrats to obtain the president's financial information.

A spokesperson for MSNBC referred questions to O'Donnell's tweet and declined further comment.

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