Meredith McIver, a staffer for the Trump Organization, has taken the blame for Melania Trump’s speech on Monday at the Republican National Convention that plagiarized parts of a 2008 Michelle Obama speech.
In a statement published to Donald Trump’s campaign website (pdf), but on his corporation’s letterhead, McIver said that she collaborated with Melania Trump on the speech, and failed to recognize that passages Trump sent to her were actually from Obama’s speech.
“Over the phone, she [Melania] read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples,” McIver wrote. “I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. That was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant.”
McIver said she offered her resignation to the Trump campaign, but that they rejected it. Her status as a Trump corporate employee is raising some eyebrows.
US law prohibits companies from directly contributing to political campaigns, or from making “in-kind” donations of staff or other resources. But Trump has blurred that line by paying roughly 25% of his campaign expenditures to his own companies.
Yesterday, the New York Times characterized McIver as “a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books.” In her statement, McIver calls herself an “in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization.”
It’s unclear if McIver was separately paid by the Trump campaign for her work on Melania’s speech. The Trump campaign has paid numerous Trump Organization staffers and disclosed it accordingly.
McIver’s admission comes only a day after Trump’s campaign, led by campaign manager Paul Manafort, repeatedly denied that any wrongdoing took place. He called the allegations of plagiarism “just really absurd,” instead blaming Hillary Clinton and the media for manufacturing a controversy.
The New York Times noted that this is the first time anyone associated with Trump’s presidential campaign has apologized for, well, anything.
Read more from Quartz on the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.