Two weeks ago the NY Times published a look at President Trump’s tax returns which found he owes about $400 million in debt. Immediately this became a talking point among Democrats. Nancy Pelosi went on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell and claimed Trump’s debt was a national security risk. Pelosi hinted darkly that Trump may personally owe money to Vladimir Putin:
Ms Pelosi said the report showed that “this president appears to have over $400m in debt”.
“To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have?” she asked, adding: “So for me, this is a national security question.”
“The fact that you could have a sitting president who owes hundreds of millions of dollars that he’s personally guaranteed to lenders, and we don’t know who these lenders are,” she said, and suggested that Mr Trump may be indebted to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“What does Putin have on the president politically? Personally? Financially?”
Naturally, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran with this, saying “the sitting president owes hundreds of millions of dollars to God knows who…”
And the next day, just prior to the first presidential debate, MSNBC interviewed Hillary Clinton who suggested one of the questions that needed to be asked of Trump was “Who do you owe that $400 million dollars to? That set all of the heads nodding at MSNBC (video below). But Hillary didn’t stop there. “If you take the pieces…of the puzzle here, it appears pretty clear to me, and I think to a lot of people that Russian money was funneled through Deutsche Bank. Russian money was used as guarantees for continuing lending to Trump and his organization despite his terrible track record financially…So who do you owe that money to?” she said. Clinton added, “Is that part of the reason why you have undisclosed conversations on a regular basis with Vladimir Putin?”
More recently, during the Vice-Presidential debate, Kamala Harris raised the same point about Trump’s debt. “It’d be really good to know who the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief owes money to, because the American people have a right to know what is influencing the president’s decisions and is he making those decisions on the best interests of the American people….or self-interest?” she said.
Yesterday the NY Times reported that we already know who Trump owes that debt to and the answer isn’t Russia, it’s Deutsche Bank. Author David Enrich not only takes down Pelosi’s suggestion that Trump owes Putin money but demolishes a lot of other left-wing conspiracy theories along the way:
According to Mr. Trump’s latest financial disclosure report, filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, he owes at least $135 million to a smattering of small financial institutions such as Ladder Capital. His biggest creditor — to whom Mr. Trump owes well over $300 million — is Deutsche Bank. From 2012 through 2015, the scandal-plagued German bank lent Mr. Trump money for his Doral golf resort in Florida ($125 million), his hotel in Washington ($170 million) and his skyscraper in Chicago (at least $45 million)…
One conspiracy theory is that Deutsche Bank agreed to make the loans because they were backstopped by Russians — the Kremlin or a state-owned bank or an oligarch. If Mr. Trump were to default, it would be the Russians, not Deutsche Bank, on the hook for the losses.
I wonder why Enrich cites some rando on Twitter making this claim rather than Hillary Clinton? In any case, it’s not true:
But the theories don’t hold up.
Deutsche Bank didn’t chop up and sell the latest batch of debt — the only portion that is still outstanding, according to bank officials with direct knowledge of the transactions. The loans remain on Deutsche Bank’s books.
In other words, Pelosi’s and Hillary’s claims about Trump owing Putin, both eagerly spread by MSNBC, were fake news. Kamala Harris claim that we don’t know who the president owes is similarly just more trolling for the same conspiracy theorists. MSNBC never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.
Here’s the clip of Hillary speculating wildly prior to the first debate: