MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell reported news Tuesday night that, if confirmed, could have a major impact on the White House tenure of President Donald Trump, congressional investigations into the president’s finances and his business relationship with Russia.
O’Donnell, appearing on the network with host Rachel Maddow, revealed that a “single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that the Trump — 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.”
A shocked Maddow responded, “What? Really?”
“That would explain — it seems to me — every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, if true, and I stress the if true part of this,” O’Donnell replied, adding that the revelation would “test the Trump theory that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still be with him.”
“Yeah, man. Seriously,” Maddow said. “That’s the financial equivalent of that.”
In closing his program, O’Donnell noted that MSNBC and NBC News could not confirm his reporting. He said Deutsche Bank’s redacted letter “probably” includes “the words Donald Trump.” (Salon has reached out to MSNBC for comment regarding O’Donnell’s original reporting and will update this article accordingly.)
“Now, I want to stress, that’s a single source. This has not been confirmed by NBC News, I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this,” he said. “This is just a single source who has revealed to me, and that’s where that stands at this point. It’s going to need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact.”
MSNBC booking producer Michael Del Moro tweeted Wednesday morning that Deutsche Bank had declined to comment on O’Donnell’s reporting.
“The information came from a single source who has not seen the bank records,” he wrote. “NBC has not seen those records and has not yet been able to verify the reporting.”
To analyze his reporting Tuesday night, O’Donnell interviewed Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative reporter and tax expert David Cay Johnston of DC Report.
“Deutsche Bank, in making these loans, had to have someone in the background that was guaranteeing these loans. It would be surprising if they’re actually co-signers,” Cay Johnston said in response to the news. “That would be absolutely astonishing, and I would think mandate his removal from office.”
O’Donnell also interviewed NBC News national affairs analyst John Heilemann, who stressed that if O’Donnell’s reporting is true, “it’s the skeleton key that picks the lock on so many fundamental mysteries of the Trump era.”
“It picks a lot of locks, and answers a lot of questions and also puts Trump in a very difficult place politically, partly because we’re barreling towards a re-election campaign,” Heilemann added. “And we’re also on the clock for the impeachment hearings. We also know it’s almost Labor Day. We know decisions have to get made.”
“And in this narrative — this moment — if the skeleton key suddenly were to emerge, it would, I think, make impeachment proceedings absolutely inevitable starting this fall,” he continued.
O’Donnell’s report came just hours after Deutsche Bank confirmed it has tax returns of at least one member of President Donald Trump’s family in a letter to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Deutsche Bank redacted any identifying information, but disclosed it has tax returns, in either draft or as-filed form, relating to a subpoena from House Democrats seeking the president’s financial information.
Deutsche Bank also said it has “such documents related to parties not named it the subpoenas but who may constitute ‘immediately family’ within the definition provided by the subpoenas.”
In a separate letter sent to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, an attorney for Capital One said the company does not possess the tax returns of any individuals named in the subpoena. The company did not mention whether it has the tax returns of individuals in Trump’s orbit who are not mentioned in the subpoena.
The letters from Deutsche Bank and Capital One come days after the financial institutions refused to reveal whether they had copies of the president’s tax returns during arguments before the Second Circuit last week, where they claimed that they are barred by “contractual and statutory obligations.”
The case made its way to the appeals court after Trump appealed a lower court’s decision that found lawmakers were within their rights to request the president’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
The House Financial Services Committee and Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One earlier this year. The panels requested a cache of financial records related to Trump’s family and his businesses, which they argued they need to examine the “potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes,” including the president’s financial relationships with foreign powers, such as Russia.