A speechwriter for Melania Trump took the blame Wednesday for lifting passages from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech, admitting she made a “mistake” – while saying she offered her resignation, but it was rejected.
In a written apology put out by the Donald Trump campaign responding to the furor, a self-described “in house staff writer” at the Trump Organization named Meredith McIver said she worked with Melania Trump on her opening-night convention speech.
She said that she wrote down passages from the first lady’s speech during planning discussions, after Melania Trump mentioned them as the kind of message she wanted to share.
“I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech,” she said. “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.”
The statement comes after Trump campaign officials repeatedly denied plagiarism charges a day earlier, and downplayed the controversy over the strikingly similar passages.
The similarities were noticed shortly after Melania’s otherwise well-received speech, and the controversy dogged the Trump campaign for much of the convention’s second day. Even ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski urged his replacement, Paul Manafort, to find out who was responsible.
In her statement, though, McIver — who also co-authored “Trump: How to Get Rich” with Trump — said she offered her resignation to Trump and his family, “but they rejected it.”
“Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences,” she said. “I apologize for the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused.”
Even as the campaign put out the statement, Trump complained on Twitter about how much attention the issue was getting from the media.
The remarks came toward the beginning of Melania Trump’s speech, which was otherwise distinct from the address that Michelle Obama gave when her husband, then-Sen. Barack Obama, was being nominated for president.
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life,” Melania Trump said in her speech in Cleveland.
In Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech in Denver, she said: “And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, that you do what you say you’re going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.”
Another passage with some similarities to the Obama address, which follows two sentences later in Melania Trump’s speech, addresses her attempts to instill those values in her son.
“We need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow,” she said. “Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
In the first lady’s 2008 speech, she said, “Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto the next generation, because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.”