Melania Trump's Speechwriter Admits Mistake | NBC Chicago
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

Full coverage of the race for the White House

Melania Trump's Speechwriter Admits Mistake

Meredith McIver, an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization, issued a statement Wednesday



    Melania Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention contained two passages that match nearly word-for-word the speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention. (Published Tuesday, July 19, 2016)

    A speechwriter for Donald Trump's company said Wednesday she made a mistake and apologized for using passages from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech in the Republican party convention speech delivered by Melania Trump.

    In a statement issued by the campaign, Meredith McIver took the blame but made it clear that Mrs. Trump knew the passages were from the first lady's speech. 

    "A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama," McIver says of Mrs. Trump. "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." 

    She said she offered her resignation Tuesday but the Trump family rejected it. 

    "Mr. Trump told me people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences," she said in the statement. 

    The passages in question came near the beginning of Mrs. Trump's nearly 15-minute speech. 

    In one example, Mrs. Trump said: "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." 

    Eight years ago, Mrs. Obama 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." 

    There were similar overlaps in a passage dealing with conveying to children that there is no limit to what they can achieve. Mrs. Trump's address was otherwise distinct from the speech that Mrs. Obama gave when her husband was being nominated for president. 

    "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." 

    McIver was described in the statement as an "in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization." 

    McIver started at the Trump Organization in 2001, according to her profile on the website of a booking agency called the All American Speakers Bureau.

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    Before that, she worked on Wall Street, according to the profile. She is originally from San Jose, California. The profile says she trained at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English.

    "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," McIver said.

    She apologized for "the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused."

    Donald Trump directly addressed for the first time Wednesday the controversy over his wife's speech, writing on Twitter that media coverage about whether the speech was plagiarized has been overblown. But Trump also cited the adage that "all press is good press." 

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    "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!" Trump wrote. 

    He followed up the tweet with another that said, "The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania's speech than the FBI spent on Hillary's emails." 

    The FBI investigated Clinton for nearly a year before director James Comey concluded that she had been "extremely careless" but there was no evidence she committed a crime.

    Melania Trump's prime-time speech on Monday, the first night of the GOP's convention in Cleveland, was her first real introduction to American voters who'd seen her by her husband's side for months but had barely heard her speak. 

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    Within moments of her triumphant appearance on the convention stage, the accusations of plagiarism surfaced, eclipsing her achievement in the latest stumble by the Trump campaign. 

    Trump's advisers defiantly denied the plagiarism charge Tuesday, though the word-for-word overlap was obvious between Melania Trump's remarks the night before and two passages in Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to the Democratic convention in Denver. 

    "It was truly an honor to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanor were absolutely incredible. Very proud!" Trump wrote early Tuesday.

    Hours later, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort called the speech criticism "just absurd" and said the issue had been "totally blown out of proportion." 

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    "There were a few words on it, but they're not words that were unique words," he told The Associated Press. "Ninety-nine percent of that speech talked about her being an immigrant and love of country and love of family and everything else." 

    Manafort also tried to blame Hillary Clinton, saying on CNN, "This is, once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down." 

    The White House declined to wade into the controversy Tuesday. 

    Trump's son, Donald Jr., had faulted outside speechwriters: "Those are the people that did this, not Paul (Manafort)," he said in an interview with CBS News and other reporters. 

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    Yet for Melania Trump, 46, a Slovenian-born former model who is Donald Trump's third wife and 24 years his junior, the controversy marred a moment in the spotlight that had been months in the making. It required her to overcome her wariness about public speaking and the traditional role of the politician's wife, as well as her heavily accented English, to present herself to the public as her husband's partner, a poised mother and wife passionate about issues impacting women and children. 

    Trump's oldest daughter, Ivanka, has taken up much of the role of the typical political spouse. She was the one who introduced her father at his official campaign announcement and appears often by his side. Melania has sat for a handful of interviews, in which she's described herself as a private person, focused on raising the couple's 10-year-old son, Barron. 

    But on Monday she delivered her speech with deliberation and poise, and it was rapturously received by convention delegates. Listeners compared her to Jackie Kennedy and said she'd won hearts from the GOP crowd. 

    Many delegates were eager to defend her, convinced that whatever had happened, Mrs. Trump herself was not to blame. And they were sympathetic that her moment in the sun had turned into the latest black eye for her husband's rocky campaign. 

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    Nebraska delegate J.L. Spray, a member of the Republican National Committee, said the part of the speech that matched Mrs. Obama's "was such non-substantive stuff. The media and the Democrats needed something to focus on, so they came up with this. If you say 'God bless America' at the end of your speech, are you plagiarizing Ronald Reagan?"