As the first evening of the Republican National Convention wrapped up, it emerged that a portion of Melania’s Trump’s speech had been plagiarized from a speech delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Since then, Trump campaign officials and surrogates have been busy trying to explain the impropriety away.
Here’s a rundown of all the different explanations we’ve been subjected to on Tuesday.
Trump Communications Director Jason Miller: It “Included Fragments That Reflected Her Own Thinking”
As the plagiarism controversy started to swirl on social media, Trump spokesman Jason Miller — the former Cruz staffer who deleted a bunch of anti-Trump tweets right after Trump hired him — released a statement that completely ignored the controversy. It merely said Melania’s speechwriters “took notes in her life’s aspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.”
Trump campaign issues statement: pic.twitter.com/zgfOMmgGr3
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 19, 2016
Chris Christie: “93% Of The Speech” Was Not Plagiarized
A few hours later on Tuesday morning, New Jersey governor-turned-Trump surrogate Chris Christie was tasked with the unenviable duty of defending Melania’s speech during an interview with Matt Lauer. Christie argued there was no impropriety since “93 percent of the speech is completely different from Michelle Obama’s.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 19, 2016
Paul Manafort: It’s Hillary’s Fault
A short time later, Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort provided a unique defense of Melania’s speech — blaming Hillary Clinton.
“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work,” he said on CNN.
Manafort repeated the allegation during a subsequent press conference in which he said, “When Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person.”
Paul Manafort dismisses criticism of Melania speech, says it's what happens when Clinton "is threatened by a female" https://t.co/yHDg5uiGzK
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 19, 2016
In fact, there is no evidence that Clinton or her campaign had anything to do with exposing Melania’s plagiarism.
Manfort also denied that any plagiarism occurred. “She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night, she knew that,” Manafort said. “To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
— New Day (@NewDay) July 19, 2016
Using a plagiarism checker, the Washingtonian determined that the likelihood Melania or whoever wrote her speech would come up with the same sequence of words as Michele Obama is somewhere south of one in a trillion.
Trump Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson: Michelle Obama Didn’t Invent English
During an interview with The Hill, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson rejected the notion any plagiarism had occurred, saying, “This concept that Michelle Obama invented the English language is absurd.”
Pierson also made the point that English isn’t Melania’s native language.
Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson defending Melania's speech.. pic.twitter.com/4X7gjJ2bkV
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) July 19, 2016
Ben Carson: It Just Shows They Have The Same Values
Republican presidential candidate-turned-Trump surrogate Ben Carson said the glaring similarity between the two speeches is just a sign that Democrats and Republicans simply share the same values — which is something to celebrate, not turn into a controversy.
“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 the same values,” the retired neurosurgeon told reporters as a hotel. “I don’t think they were plagiarized. I think there are general principles that are very valuable to Americans, and of course to express those principles you’re going to use similar language,”
RNC Spokesman Sean Spicer: Actually, Michelle Obama Plagiarized From My Little Pony
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer defended the plagiarism accusations by arguing on CNN that no language is really original.
Melania Trump said, ‘You work hard for what you get in life.’ John Legend said, ‘Work hard to be anything you want in life.’ Kid Rock said, ‘Work hard to be anything you want in life.’ Melania Trump said, ‘The strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.’ Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony said, ‘This is your dream, anything you can do in your dreams you can do now.’ I mean if we want to take a bunch of phrases and run them through a Google and say, Hey, who else has said them? I can come up with a list in five minutes. And that’s what this is.
Spicer also blamed the Clinton campaign, without any shred of evidence, for somehow being behind the plagiarism coming to light.
Anonymous Trump Source: “It’s Piss Poor Staff Work”
An NBC report about the fiasco cites an unnamed Trump campaign source who blames staff for the plagiarism.
“It’s piss-poor staff work,” the source said. “Melania has been humiliated. No doubt heads are going to roll.”
Trump Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson: Melania “Wanted To Communicate To Americans In Phrases They Have Heard Before”
On Tuesday, the Trump Organization provided yet another explanation for Melania’s plagiarized speech. In a statement, “an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization” named Meredith McIver who says she worked with Melania on her speech took the blame. Here’s the statement:
Celisa Calacal is an intern with ThinkProgress.