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Trump critics pounced on report he owed 'tens of millions' to China — now Politico is walking back the story


And yet the outlet keeps pushing the original false story

Photo: Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

Critics of President Donald Trump pounced on a story that claimed he owed tens of millions in debt to China, but the news outlet later issued a lengthy correction and apology for the false claims.

The original Politico story implied that the president could be compromised by owing an extraordinary debt to the country that originated the Wuhan coronavirus.

"Whoa, whoa!!! This is why there is an emoluments clause. Presidents cannot have financial interests dependent on foreign govts," responded "NeverTrump" pundit Jen Rubin.

On Tuesday, Politico issued a lengthy correction and apology about the claims made in the story.

On Friday evening, POLITICO received a statement from a representative for Bank of China USA, which had not been contacted beforehand, that the bank had sold off, or securitized, its debt shortly after the 2012 deal. A spokeswoman said the bank has no current financial interest in any Trump Organization properties. We updated the body of the article to take account of the bank's statement.

They also had to correct another false fact that supported the claims made against the president.

POLITICO attempted to reach other parties to the refinancing throughout the weekend and Monday. Wells Fargo on Monday confirmed the Bank of China's statement that it had been listed as a creditor on the building in error. Bank of China said Wells Fargo is taking steps to correct the record with an updated filing.

"Our commitment at POLITICO is to journalism that gets its facts straight," the news outlet added. "We regret we fell short in this case."

The story is still out there

Some of the tweets propagating the original false story were left undeleted, including that of Joe Biden's Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates:

"Trump owes the Bank of China millions for helping him acquire one of his most valuable properties. The loan comes due in the middle of the next presidential term," claimed Bates.

"Remember how much he echoed Chinese government propaganda about the virus being contained?" he asked helpfully.

In a similar situation on Monday, Fox News' Sean Hannity threatened to sue the New York Times over a story claiming that his comments downplaying the coronavirus led to the death of a man who watched the cable news channel.

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