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Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort said the most-covered story from the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention was fed to the press by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump’s wife, Melania, was the headline speaker Monday night in Cleveland, but it appears she borrowed some words from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama. Read our comparison of the two speeches here.
"There’s a political tint to this whole issue," Manafort said in a televised statement July 19. "The Clinton camp was the first to get it out there and try to say there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave. It’s just another example, as far as we’re concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person."
Given the extensive media coverage of this story, we were curious about Manafort’s claim that the Clinton campaign planted it.
As it turns out, the Clinton campaign was not the first to note similarities between the Trump and Obama speeches. It was Jarrett Hill, a Los Angeles-based Twitter user who describes himself as an interior designer and a journalist.
"Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech, since she plagiarized it," Hill tweeted at 10:40 p.m. Monday night.
Hill told PolitiFact that he was watching Trump’s speech, and a couple of the lines made him think, "Whoa, that’s weird. I heard that before." He then tweeted at some NBC journalists to draw their attention to the similarities to Obama’s speech, and the story blew up.
Hill said he has "literally no ties to the Clinton campaign," though he is a registered Democrat. He has not heard from anyone involved with the Clinton campaign before or since he uncovered the potential plagiarism.
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri denied that it is the story’s source in a tweet.
In fact, the Clinton campaign has not issued any statement or public response to the story, other than the tweet from Palmieri's personal account. One arm, Correct the Record, retweeted one of Hill’s tweets. A few individual campaign staffers have tweeted about it, too.
But this was all after Hill made the original connection.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz if the Democratic Party or Clinton campaign planted the attack on Melania Trump.
Wasserman Schultz did not reply with a flat "no," but she said, "the Trump Organization, whether it's Paul Manafort or anyone, all the way up to Donald Trump himself, anytime they are caught red-handed engaging in distortions, inaccuracies, a fact pattern that is clearly not accurate, they blame someone else. And so they should be prepared to be held accountable for the content of anything delivered from the stage of the Republican National Convention."
We tried to reach Donald Trump’s campaign multiple times but did not hear back.
Manafort said, "The Clinton camp was the first to get it out there and try to say there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave."
The Clinton campaign has barely reacted to the claims that Melania Trump took some phrases from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. A Twitter user in Los Angeles, who has no Clinton campaign ties, was the first to draw attention to the similarities between the two speeches.
We rate Manafort's claim False.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/140ee0c6-d406-4bdc-97c2-acd998adf3c2
ABC News, Paul Manafort press conference, July 19, 2016
Nexis news transcript archive search, conducted July 19, 2016
New York Times, "Questions Over Melania Trump’s Speech Set Off Finger-Pointing," July 19, 2016
Washington Post, "On Melania Trump’s plagiarism, a laid-off journalist watching in an L.A. Starbucks scooped everyone," July 19, 2016
Phone interview, Jarrett Hill, July 19, 2016
Email interview, Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin, July 19, 2016
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