Paul Manafort, the chairman of the Donald Trump campaign, on Tuesday morning denied that Melania Trump’s Monday night speech used part of Michelle Obama’s address at the 2008 Democratic convention, arguing that Melania Trump’s speech used “common words.”
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” Manafort said on CNN’s “New Day” when co-host Chris Cuomo asked about the speech “cribbing” from the now-First Lady. “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.”
Jarrett Hill appeared to be the first to notice that Melania Trump’s speech lifted significant portions from Michelle Obama’s speech, but Manafort blamed reports of plagiarism on Hillary Clinton.
“This is once again an example of when a women threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work,” he said on CNN.
Cuomo noted that when part of a speech given by President Obama in 2008 was similar to remarks delivered by Deval Patrick, the Obama campaign acknowledged it. Cuomo asked Manafort why the Trump campaign won’t “own” the fact that Melania Trump’s speech was similar to that of Michelle Obama.
“He did do it. That’s correct,” Manafort said of Obama’s 2008 speech, before again arguing that Melania Trump did not lift from Michelle Obama.
“To think that she would do something like that, knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd,” he said.
He also said that her speech was a “collaboration” and that “certainly there’s no feeling on her part that she did it.” This description of the speech-writing process contradicts comments from Melania Trump before her speech on Monday. She told NBC News that she “wrote it with a little help as possible.”
In its official statement on Melania Trump’s speech issued early Tuesday morning, the Trump campaign did not directly acknowledge accusations of plagiarism.
“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in the statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Watch part of Manafort’s appearance via CNN:
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