Donald Trump's campaign manager flatly denied the possibility of plagiarism in Melania Trump's Monday night address to the Republican convention, despite striking similarities to passages in Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic convention speech, Los Angeles Times reports.
"There's no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech," top aide Paul Manafort said Tuesday on CNN. "These are common words and values — that she cares about her family, things like that. She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night; she knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy."
He added on CBS that the words in question "are not unique."
Rather than specify whether a Trump staffer was responsible for the similar text, Manafort pinned the blame on the presumptive Democratic nominee.
"This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how [Clinton] seeks to demean her and take her down," Manafort said on CNN. "It's not going to work."
Manafort said that in writing Melania's speech, "There was a process, certainly, of collaboration. Certainly, there's no feeling on her part that she did it. What she did was use words that are common words."
"To think that she would do something like that, knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night, is just really absurd," he added.
Manafort's insistence puzzled CNN host Chris Cuomo, who told the campaign manager: "If that's the way you want to explain it, that's up to you."
Manafort's flat assertion runs counter to a vague statement released by the campaign last night, which did not address the plagiarism charges directly. The contradictory statements did little to quell cable news chatter Tuesday morning, which focused nearly exclusively on the intrigue over the speech.