In a statement released on Wednesday, a staff writer for Donald Trump’s corporation took responsibility for the portions of Monday’s speech by Melania Trump that were lifted from a speech by Michelle Obama in 2008. In addition to contradicting many of the myriad excuses Trump’s campaign had made on Monday, this admission may cause more headaches for the campaign.
The statement was printed not on campaign letterhead, but on Trump Organization letterhead. In it, Meredith McIver identified herself not as a campaign staffer, but as “an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization.” She notes that she offered her resignation “to Mr. Trump and the Trump family,” but makes no mention of offering to resign from the Trump campaign.
Lawrence M. Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center and former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission, told ThinkProgress that letter “raised all kinds of questions about whether this has been illegal support.”
“His company is not supposed to be supporting his campaign,” Noble explained, which would be an illegal corporate contribution. While campaign disclosures have indicated that Trump for President has been paying the Trump Organization for some staff time, which is permissible under campaign finance law, Noble observed that “the lines are becoming very blurred.”
“Nowhere in here does she say she was working at the Trump campaign,” he added. “Then she talks about resigning, the implication is resigning from the company. Why would she be doing that if she was working for the campaign? This raises a lot of questions.”
If she had been doing the work on her own time as a volunteer, that would also be allowed. But Noble noted, in that situation, the statement should not have been on company letterhead. “They’d have been much better off if they’d put this on Trump campaign stationary and said she was working for the campaign.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry.
The Democratic Coalition Against Trump, an arm of the Keep America Great PAC, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, alleging “illegally accepting direct corporate contributions, accepting services from a volunteer that were actually compensated, use of the Trump corporate name or trademark to facilitate campaign contributions, illegal use of corporate facilities by a campaign volunteer, and knowingly allowing volunteers to exceed the transportation expense limit.”