Wednesday morning, CNN’s Chris Cuomo grilled Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort about the undeniable plagiarism in Melania Trump’s RNC speech. But instead of simply acknowledging that part of Melania’s speech was lifted from Michelle Obama and moving on, Manafort repeatedly refused to admit any impropriety had occurred.
“As far as we’re concerned, there are similar words that were used,” Manfort said, echoing one of the many excuses trotted out by the Trump campaign on Tuesday. “But the feelings of those words and the commonality of those words do not create a situation where we feel we have to agree [that plagiarism occurred]. You want to have that opinion, fine.”
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 less than one in a trillion. But that’s apparently the argument Manafort is sticking with.
During the CNN exchange, Cuomo explained that it’s not so much Melania’s speech itself that makes the plagiarism fiasco a story of significance to voters. It’s the fact that Manafort and company’s refusal to own up to the error exemplifies Trump’s long-established uncommitted relationship with truth-telling at the same time his campaign is trying to make a case that Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted.
Watch the whole exchange for yourself:
Beyond keeping the story alive by steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the plagiarism in Melania’s speech, the second evening of the RNC also involved a speech-cribbing controversy, as a portion of Donald Trump Jr’s speech was apparently lifted from a May article in the American Conservative. The principal writer of Trump Jr’s speech, F.H. Buckley, also authored the American Conservative piece, so in that case no plagiarism occurred. But as the Atlantic’s James Fallows writes, “as someone who has written both magazine articles and political/presidential speeches, I’ll say that this is something you don’t do this way.”
“You don’t recycle, without attribution, things you’ve written and let someone else present them as his or her own words,” Fallows added. “At least I haven’t done it myself or previously known of people doing this.”
Later on Tuesday, the Trump Organization released a statement placing blame for the plagiarism on “an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization” who apparently worked with Melania on her speech. Here’s the statement: