Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort told CNN on Tuesday morning that Melania Trump—despite all evidence to the contrary—didn’t plagiarize Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech when she spoke Monday evening at the Republican National Convention. Manafort called the whole scandal a plot by Hillary Clinton to undermine a woman she felt was threatening her. “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton she’ll... take her down. It’s not going to work.” He noted that Trump was aware of how scrutinized the the speech would be and wouldn’t have made such an error. “These were common words and values,” Manafort said, “and to think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.” Before Manafort’s CNN interview, around 1:30 a.m., a Trump campaign statement on the speech was released but did not address the allegations. “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,” wrote Jason Miller, senior communications adviser. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told NBC’s Today that he believes it wasn’t plagiarism. “Not when 93 percent of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama’s speech,” he said. “They expressed some common thoughts.” Matt Lauer countered, “Well, almost word for word.” Christie bypassed that comment and went on to say that the first day of the convention is “bloated” and that the national conversation will have moved on, within 24 hours, to another subject.