Trump Campaign Admits to Plagiarizing Obama Speech

Trump Campaign Admits to Plagiarizing Obama Speech
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CLEVELAND -- Donald Trump’s campaign admitted Wednesday to inadvertently stealing from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech when preparing Melania Trump’s remarks to the GOP convention Monday night.

A campaign staffer took the blame for the plagiarism and said in a statement she offered to resign but was turned down.

“In working with Melania Trump on her recent First Lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked and admired is Michelle Obama. Over the phone she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This was my mistake and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama,” said Meredith McIver, an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization.

“Yesterday I offered my resignation to Mr. Trump and the Trump family, but they rejected it. Mr. Trump told me people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences.”

It was a stunning admission from the campaign, which initially defended Melania Trump’s speech as her own work through staff and also GOP officials and campaign surrogates.

McIver’s statement also contradicts what Melania Trump told NBC News: that she wrote the speech herself.

"I read it once over, and that's all because I wrote it with as little help as possible,'' she told the “Today” show on Monday before appearing at the convention.

In her statement, McIver said coming forward was her idea.

“I asked to put out this statement because I did not like seeing the way this was distracting from Mr. Trump’s historic campaign for president and Melania’s beautiful message and presentation. I apologize for the confusion and hysteria my mistake caused.”

McIver was described in a New York Times story as a “a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books.”

Her statement comes one day before Trump will address delegates at the GOP convention and as his wife’s speech from the first day is still being talked about as the most memorable convention moment thus far.

The speech controversy erupted shortly after Melania Trump finished speaking Monday night. Social media was full of video mashups showing comparisons of her remarks to Obama’s 2008 convention speech. 

The next day, Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort told CBS News there was “no cribbing” from Obama.

"Certainly there is no feeling on [Melania's] part that she did it," Manafort said. "What she did is use words that are common words."

He also accused the Clinton campaign of driving the plagiarism story.

"It's just another example, as far as we're concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person," he said at a briefing for reporters.

The Clinton camp has denied involvement. It was an out-of-work journalist who first noticed the similarities and posted them on Twitter.

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer also defended the speech, saying it contained common phrasing.

"Melania Trump said, 'You work hard for what you want in life'; Akon said, 'Work hard for what you get in life'; John Legend said, 'Work hard,'" Spicer told MSNBC. "Melania Trump said, 'The strength of your dreams and the willingness to work for them'; Twilight Sparkle from ‘My Little Pony’ said, 'This is your dream, anything you can [dream, do].'"

Emily Goodin is the managing editor of RealClearPolitics.

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