Melania Trump did not plagiarise speech, campaign claims

Donald Trump’s wife is accused of copying speech by Michelle Obama at convention

Melania Trump's speech at raucous Republican convention bears similarities with Michelle Obama's speech in 2008. Video: Reuters

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team has rejected accusations that the speech delivered by the candidate’s wife Melania on the opening night of the Republican convention in Cleveland plagiarised Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic convention.

"Well, there's no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech," said campaign manager Paul Manafort.

“These were common words and values, that she cares about her family and things like that.”

Mrs Trump was speaking in front of 35 million people on Monday night, Mr Manafort told CNN's New Day morning programme.


"To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy," he said. "I mean, this is, once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It's not going to work."

In an interview with CBS programme This Morning, Mr Manafort played down the accusations of plagiarism, saying that the claims referred to "three places in the speech and . . . fragments of words".

‘Solely responsible’

He said Mrs Trump was solely responsible for the speech, contradicting an earlier statement from the campaign that the speech was written by “Melania’s team of writers”.

“There is nothing that she did in that speech that she thought was anybody’s words but herself,” he said.

In a statement released in the early hours of the morning, Mr Trump's senior communications adviser Jason Miller said: "In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life's inspiration, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking."

Hours earlier, in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC's Today programme, Mrs Trump said: "I read it once over, and that's all because I wrote it with as little help as possible."

Later, however, recriminations flew about who was responsible for the alleged plagiarism in the speech with some campaign sources appearing to point the finger of blame at Mr Manafort and others blaming staff of the Trump organisation who assisted the billionaire’s wife in drafting the speech.

The billionaire himself was said to be furious over the controversy.

‘No way’

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a former candidate and now a senior adviser to Mr Trump, said there was “no way” that Mrs Trump plagiarised Mrs Obama’s 2008 speech.

“I just don’t see it,” he told CNN. “If we’re talking about 7 per cent of a speech, that was really, universally considered to be a good performance by Melania. I know her. There’s no way that Melania Trump was plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech.”

Republican national committee chairman Reince Priebus, the party official leading the management of the party’s national convention in Cleveland, said he would “probably’ fire whoever was responsible for lifting the lines from Mrs Obama’s speech.

“It all kinda depends on the circumstances and how they are written,” he said.

Ben Carson, who was a presidential candidate in the Republican primary and like Mr Christie is heavily involved in the Trump campaign team, dismissed the claims of plagiarism saying that if it happened, it was a sign of shared values between the parties.

“If Melania’s speech is similar to Michelle Obama’s speech, that should make us all very happy because we should be saying, whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, we share share the same values,” the retired neurosurgeon told reporters outside a campaign event in Cleveland.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times