Twitter’s conservatives laid into Lawrence O’Donnell after the MSNBC host retracted an explosive story claiming that President Donald Trump’s loans were countersigned by “Russian oligarchs.”
O’Donnell made the claim on Tuesday night, but added the caveat that it was based on a single anonymous source “close to Deutsche Bank,” the financial institution at the center of a legal fight between Congress and Trump over the release of the president’s tax returns.
After the Trump family’s lawyers threatened to sue over the story, which they described as false and defamatory, O’Donnell retracted, saying it “did not go through the rigorous verification and standards process here at MSNBC before repeating.”
“I should not have said it on air or posted it on Twitter. I was wrong to do so,” O’Donnell said during his show The Last Word yesterday evening. “This afternoon, attorneys for the president sent us a letter asserting the story is false.
“They demanded a retraction. Tonight we are retracting the story. We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate. But the fact is, we do know it wasn’t ready for broadcast, and for that I apologize.”
In the aftermath of the retraction, conservatives took aim at O’Donnell and claimed the story was yet another example of the “hoax” often bemoaned by Trump that he and his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 election in his favor.
“The Russia hoax in a nutshell,” Tom Fritton, president of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch, tweeted about the O’Donnell saga.
“Just the latest and greatest of the collusion hoax stories that get widely spread as factual and, only later, quietly debunked as baseless,” Rep. Mark Meadows, a Trump-supporting North Carolina Republican, wrote on Twitter. “It’s emblematic of so many of the left’s so-called ‘bombshells’ about Russian collusion: ‘Share now—verify later.’ Disastrous.”
“When you say rigorous verification & standards process, are you referring to the time your network reported that Trump Jr. was given advanced access to Wikileaks emails, or that Russians hacked an electric VT utility, or that Russia used microwaves to brain injure U.S. diplomats?” Jon Miller, a host on Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV, tweeted.
“More bogus ‘reporting’ from the liberal media. If Lawrence O’Donnell actually regretted his lies about @realDonaldTrump, he’d apologize,” Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the GOP, tweeted before O’Donnell issued his on-air apology.
“This refers to just one of the Russia collusion hoax stories that has been pushed — even at this embarrassingly late date! — by partisans in our political media,” Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at the conservative outlet The Federalist, tweeted.
“You mean another Trump-Russia bombshell based on an un-verified report from a single anonymous source turns out to be bunk?! Imagine my shock!” tweeted Steven Crowder, a conservative YouTuber.
Special counsel Robert Mueller said at the end of his two-year investigation that the evidence he uncovered did not establish that there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in its widespread and malicious interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller did find evidence that Trump obstructed justice in relation to the investigation, but did not indict him, citing justice department guidelines that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Democrats in Congress are mulling impeachment instead.