Donald Trump’s campaign started the second day of the Republican National Convention on the defense after claims of plagiarism were hurled at his wife Melania over her speech Monday night.
Initially, Trump’s campaign simply ignored the parallels being drawn between Melania Trump’s RNC speech and an address given by first lady Michelle Obama in 2008. There are at least two passages in Melania Trump’s speech that have critics crying foul.
Melania Trump’s Twitter account posted a statement early Tuesday morning that said “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Also on Tuesday morning, former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on CNN that the staffer behind Melania Trump’s Republican convention speech should resign and “be held accountable,” but the network cited sources as saying no one will be fired.
Trump himself tweeted support but made no mention of the accusations, saying “It was truly an honor to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanor were absolutely incredible. Very proud!”
But with a social media frenzy already in full swing, Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, appeared on CNN Tuesday morning to defend the speech.
“To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd,” Manafort said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Manafort argued that the words Melania used were common and that there was “no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech.”
“To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy,” Manafort added.
Donald Trump Jr., however, directed culpability to the speechwriters in an interview with CBS News' Norah O'Donnell.
"Those people shouldn't have done it, or they should have cleaned it up better," Trump Jr. said from the convention floor in Cleveland.
Lewandowski said of Manafort, who effectively replaced him on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s team: “If he was the last person who saw this and saw this happen and has brought this on the candidate’s wife, I think he would resign, because I think that’s the type of person he would be.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has endorsed Trump for president, quickly jumped into the conversation on Tuesday, saying on CNN there was no way Melania would plagiarize.
“I just don’t see it,” Christie told CNN’s Jamie Gangel. “If we’re talking about 7 percent of a speech, that was really, universally considered to be a good performance by Melania. I know her. There's no way that Melania Trump was plagiarizing Michelle Obama's speech."
Democrats and other Trump critics, however, aren’t so sure it was an innocent coincidence.
Early Tuesday morning, the hashtag #FamousMelaniaTrumpQuotes started trending, with Twitter users posting quotes from songs and movies and attributing them to Trump’s wife.
“Work, work, work, work, work, work. He say me have to Work, work, work, work, work, work!” #FamousMelaniaTrumpQuotes” actor Jesse Williams tweeted.
DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, however, took a more serious approach to the accusations, saying on CNN that anytime the Trump organization is caught engaging in distortions or inaccuracies, “they blame someone else.”
Rival and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has yet to publicly comment on the claims.
With Emily Ngo