In-house speechwriter takes blame for Melania Trump's plagiarism

The in-house staff writer did it.

After more than two days of evasion, denials and contradictory explanations, the Trump campaign released a statement Wednesday – "to whom it may concern" – ascribing the plagiarized passages in Melania Trump's convention speech to a scribe working for Donald Trump’s corporate operation.

"In working with Melania Trump on her recent first lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people,” Meredith McIver, who described herself as a longtime admirer of the Trump family, said in the statement. “A person she always liked is Michelle Obama.”

By McIver’s account, Melania Trump read her some passages from Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention and those words inadvertently made their way into the final draft that she delivered Monday at the GOP’s gathering in Cleveland.

“This was my mistake and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as Mrs. Obama,” McIver said. “No harm was meant.”

She said she had offered her resignation to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, as well as his family, but it was rejected.

“Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences,” she wrote.

McIver’s account was one of several explanations offered by the Trump campaign and its representatives, including denial that any plagiarism had taken place. Before the controversy erupted, Melania had told NBC she had written virtually the entire speech by herself.

Far from laying the matter to rest, the statement reignited the issue, which distracted attention from the convention for a second straight day and sparked a new round of finger-pointing at Trump’s barebones political operation and its repeated stumbles.

Earlier Wednesday, before McIver’s statement posted, the Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, said in a television interview that it was time to move on.

Trump, who had remained silent on the matter, weighed in with a pair of Tweets.

“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 quickly followed up, with characteristic hyperbole:

“The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails,” he wrote, referring to the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of State.

mark.barabak@latimes.com

Twitter: For more political news and analysis follow me @markzbarabak

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