20 July 2016

Melania Trump’s Speechwriter takes responsibility for lifted remarks

Maliama TrumpA longtime employee of the Trump Organization took responsibility for lifting two passages, from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama, for Melania Trump’s address on Monday at the Republican National Convention, saying that it was an innocent mistake.

The employee, Meredith McIver, who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books, is the first person to publicly apologize for an error at any point during the Trump campaign. The New York Times on Tuesday night identified Ms. McIver as playing a role in the speech, although the extent of her involvement was unclear, and the Trump campaign declined to answer questions. Ms. McIver was brought in after Ms. Trump discarded the majority of a draft written by two professional speechwriters.

Ms. McIver identified herself in an unusual statement posted on the Trump campaign’s website, hours after the chief strategist, Paul Manafort, said the issue was manufactured by the news media. And it breathed new life into a story now in its third day.

“In working with Melania on her recent first lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people,” Ms. McIver wrote.

“A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama,” she added.

“Over the phone,” Ms. Trump “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. No harm was meant.”

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

She continued: “I asked to put out the 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 has caused. Today, more than ever, I am honored to work for such a great family.”

The Trump campaign had strongly pushed back on claims that Mr. Manafort and his team were behind the listed passages, which marred Ms. Trump’s first major foray into politics and served as a significant embarrassment. An hour before the statement was released, showing no hint of giving in to critics or conceding a mistake, Mr. Trump accused the news media of holding a microscope to his wife and employed one of his favorite phrases about publicity.

“Good news is Melania’s speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!” Mr. Trump wrote in one Twitter post.

In a quick follow-up, he added, “The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the F.B.I. spent on Hillary’s emails.”

The investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was the secretary of state lasted nearly a year.

Mr. Trump’s defense of his wife came as the campaign tried to move beyond questions about how two passages in Ms. Trump’s speech closely mirrored the address by the budding first lady, Mrs. Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Mr. Trump had stayed silent throughout Tuesday after the speech on Monday night.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Manafort said in televised interviews that it was time to move on.

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