Politico’s story about President Trump owing tens of millions of dollars on a loan that comes due in 2022 to the Chinese state-owned bank, Bank of China, was widely circulated on social media when it was published on Friday. On Monday, the news outlet had to issue a massive correction that undermined the story’s main premise.
After the story was published, Politico received a statement from Bank of China USA on Friday, which was not contacted by Politico before publication, to say the story was not true. The bank had sold off, or securitized, its debt shortly after the 2012 deal:
The article cited a nearly $1 billion refinancing deal from several banks, including the Bank of China, struck in 2012 with a New York City real estate venture in which the Trump Organization has a substantial minority interest. We reported that President Trump, through the Trump Organization, owes the Chinese state-owned bank tens of millions of dollars on a loan that comes due in 2022.
This assertion, which was referenced in the headline as well as the story, was based on public documents related to the deal as well as property records. We sought comment from the Vornado Realty Trust, the primary investor, which didn’t respond to our request before publication. The White House and the Trump Organization declined to comment on the record after being told what we intended to report.
A spokeswoman said the bank has no current financial interest in any Trump Organization properties.
Politico said there is an “unresolved discrepancy” regarding a 2017 document “filed by the loan servicer, Wells Fargo, with the New York Department of Finance listed Bank of China as having a financial interest in the building, 1290 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. That record, known as a UCC3, indicated that Bank of China had a “secured” interest in the building’s fixtures in case of default on the loan. The 2017 document is valid until 2022, when the loan comes due.”
“Our commitment at POLITICO is to journalism that gets its facts straight. We regret we fell short in this case,” the correction concluded.
Liberals in the media and political world had a field day when the story was first published, saying it was yet another example of Trump being beholden to a foreign entity. Their now-misleading posts racked up thousands of retweets and likes.
People who pushed the story included Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, Director of Rapid Response for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign Andrew Bates, CNBC anchor Carl Quintanilla, Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias, senior producer for MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” Kyle Griffin, NBC and MSNBC legal contributor Katie Phang, editor and chief writer for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, and former Obama administration official Tommy Vietor.
Many of the tweets from those who breathlessly ran with the story remain up on Tuesday.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden cited the now-outdated information during an interview on Monday.
It’s been several days since Politico corrected this story to note that the President doesn’t owe any money to the bank of China.
This is embarrassing, does Biden not have WiFi in that basement? https://t.co/cPvN3USQfe
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) April 28, 2020
Author: Julio Rosas