By Brian Flood | Fox News
President Trump’s legal team sent a harshly worded letter to NBC Wednesday demanding an apology and retraction for “false and defamatory, and extremely damaging” comments made by liberal MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, who ran with a singled-sourced, unverified report that Trump had loans co-signed by Russian oligarchs.
The letter obtained by Fox News was sent by Trump’s legal counsel to NBC Universal executives.
“We write concerning the false and defamatory statements published by Lawrence O’Donnell and NBC Universal,” the letter said.
“Demand is hereby made that Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements.”
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The letter, written by Charles J. Hader, asked for NBC to confirm in 24 hours: “O’Donnell and NBCU will immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements.”
“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,” Hader added.
NBC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The incident occurred on Tuesday night when O’Donnell and fellow far-left MSNBC host Rachel Maddow were discussing how Trump was “able to obtain loans when no one else would loan him any money” when he tossed out the unverified speculation.
“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.”
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A stunned Maddow leaned back in her chair and responded, “What? Really?”
BREAKING: MSNBC reports that Donald Trump obtained business loans by having Russian oligarchs as co-signers: “The source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that Donald Trump’s loan documents … show that he has co-signers … and that they are Russian Oligarchs.”83011:49 PM – Aug 27, 2019
O’Donnell added “that would explain every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin” if his information is accurate.
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“These statements are false and defamatory, and extremely damaging. 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,” the letter said in response to O’Donnell’s report.
“You are officially on notice of this dispute and are required to undertake steps to affirmatively preserve, and not delete, any and all physical and electronic documents, materials, information, and data,” the letter said.
The letter concludes by stating that if NBC fails to retract the story and apologize, Trump will “pursue all available causes of action and seek all available damages and other legal remedies to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
The fiery letter came after White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham blasted O’Donnell on Wednesday over the story.
“This is one of the reasons that a majority of Americans have lost trust in the media. 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,” Grisham told Fox News.
“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.”— Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham
Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson also slammed MSNBC for the reckless report.
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“Even if tempered with an ‘if true’ caution, there still needs to be a solid basis for believing it is true. Otherwise, pure speculation and wishful thinking takes the place of news reporting,” Jacobson told Fox News.
MSNBC’s primetime hosts have a long history of running with unverified claims regarding Trump and Russia. “The Rachel Maddow Show” has plummeted to fifth overall among cable news programs after she dedicated substantial airtime since Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 to speculating about whether or not Trump colluded with Russia.
Viewers began turning away when Maddow’s collusion theory was discredited by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and testimony. Ex-MSNBC host Krystal Ball even blasted her former colleague earlier this year for floating wild “Russian conspiracy theories” that blew up when Mueller didn’t substantiate them.
“Rachel Maddow, you’ve got some explaining to do,” Ball said on The Hill’s “Rising.”
Ball noted that MSNBC and Maddow “built segment after segment, show after show, on building anticipation for a big reveal” that never arrived.
NBC News did not immediately respond when asked if O’Donnell’s report met its standards.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Liam Quinn contributed to this report. Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News.