An employee of the Trump Organization, Meredith McIver, took responsibility Wednesday afternoon for lifting lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic convention speech to use in Melania Trump’s Monday night speech at the Republican convention in Cleveland.
She said she offered to resign but that the Trumps refused to accept her resignation.
McIver helped Melania Trump write the speech, and said in the statement that she included lines from Michelle Obama’s speech by mistake after Melania Trump read them to her over the phone.
“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,” McIver said in the statement. “This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant.”
She said that she offered her resignation from the Trump Organization, but that the Trump family rejected it.
“Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences,” she said.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that McIver helped Melania Trump with her speech. She is a former ballet dancer who now works with the Trumps and helped Donald Trump with his book, “Think Like a Billionaire.”
According to the Times, McIver helped Melania Trump with the speech after well-known GOP speechwriters initially wrote up a draft.
McIver apologized for the plagiarism in Melania Trump’s speech.
“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,” she said in the statement. “I apologize for the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused. Today, more than ever, I am honored to work for such a great family. I personally admire the way Mr. Trump has handled this situation and I am grateful for his understanding.”
This statement from McIver comes after the Trump campaign repeatedly denied that parts of the speech were plagiarized. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, said early Tuesday morning that the speech did not take from Michelle Obama.
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” he told CNN. “These were common words and values — that she cares about her family, things like that. I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
Later that day, he repeated his denial in a press conference, blaming the media and Hillary Clinton for the accusations of plagiarism.
“You all are focusing on trying to distort that message in some respects,” he told reporters. “And certainly we’ve noted that the Clinton camp was the first to get it out there in trying to say that there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave. It’s just another example, as far as we concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person.”
By Tuesday night, reports had surfaced revealing that Melania Trump changed her speech after it was drafted by seasoned Republican speechwriters, and that a member of the Trump Organization had helped her with the edits.
But on Wednesday morning, Manafort was still insisting that there was no plagiarism in a heated interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
Trump remained silent on the matter until Wednesday afternoon, about an hour before the campaign sent out a statement from McIver. Even then, Trump dismissed reports on plagiarism without addressing the matter directly. He touted the publicity Melania Trump’s speech received and bashed the press for “doing a forensic analysis” for her remarks.
Read the full statement: