Meredith McIver, a former ballerina turned Donald Trump co-author, is definitely a real person. But her social media persona, which came into being after she took the blame for Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, definitely is not.
The account @imeredithmciver began tweeting on July 20, the day after Melania Trump’s prime-time Republican National Convention speech was upended by the revelation that she had cribbed some lines from an address by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. And it is still posing as McIver to this day, with no comment or pushback from the Trump campaign.
As the campaign is in the throes of daily sparring with a Gold Star family, fire marshals, and even the speaker of the House, there’s been no acknowledgment of the fake social media presence of McIver, who told The Daily Beast she has no online presence. Multiple people have emailed The Daily Beast claiming to have some knowledge about the mysterious appearance of the account, ranging from abject satire to claims the Trump campaign is actually behind it.
“I just wanted to set the record straight. @realDonaldTrump is a wonderful man,” the account tweeted just as McIver was getting roped into the burgeoning scandal. With her social media proclamation, the account included a photoshopped image of McIver and Trump standing next to each other in his office.
“This was my mistake,” McIver wrote in a July 20 letter with the Trump Organization logo embossed on the top. “Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences.” She claimed that she offered her resignation and Trump simply would not accept.
And just like that McIver was gone. She didn’t make any more public statements. She didn’t appear as one of Trump’s surrogates on television as the convention wore on. No reporter seemed to be able to get a face-to-face interview with her.
Yet her alleged Twitter account was active, promoting positive messages about Trump and responding to numerous incredulous reporters who wondered if McIver was in fact a real human being.
McIver is a registered Democrat in New York who co-authored Trump’s 2004 book How to Get Rich and was specifically named in a 2007 deposition by Trump. (He blamed her for overstating his debt so as to make his financial comeback look even more impressive.)
She is still alive too, it would seem. She responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.
“I have never had a Twitter or Facebook account,” McIver wrote in an email.
Yet on Monday night, @imeredithmciver claimed that McIver would be making an appearance on Jake Tapper’s show The Lead on Friday. When shown the tweet and asked whether the appearance would be happening, Tapper just said “nope” in a direct message.
The McIver account itself did not respond to direct messages requesting more information, but someone claiming to run it sent an extensive email to The Daily Beast claiming that the RNC hired them.
“I worked for the Trump campaign in Cleveland last week, doing some light digital work as needed,” the individual, who identified himself only as “Brian,” wrote. “On Wednesday, as the statement was released regarding the plagiarism controversy, I was approached by campaign staffers to create a Twitter account for this persona as part of what was described as a ‘grassroots’ effort to help squash the scandal before it could become something bigger. While I think they believed the statement would be widely accepted, they apparently wanted to ensure there was something to fall back on as people began to inevitably ask questions.”
“Brian” claimed that Jason Miller, the communications director for the campaign, had written out some explicit instructions for tweets and put them on an Excel sheet. “Brian” provided a screenshot of the alleged spreadsheet to The Daily Beast but would not provide proof of contracting by the campaign. Miller did not comment on the veracity of the claim.
“Sometime in the afternoon of the 20th, someone on the communications team—not Jason Miller but someone below him—asked me and a couple other digital people to get the Twitter started because apparently, they knew there would be questions,” claimed “Brian.”
He did not respond to further questions.
The owner of a Facebook account using similar photoshopped images, however, told The Daily Beast that he made the fake page as a piece of satire.
“I made the photoshops as cheasy [sic] as I could,” Andrew Gert of Tucson, Arizona, said in a Facebook message. “Some people see the saire [sic], others thought it was real.”
Gert said he was now retired after 25 years working for a Fortune 500 company. When asked what he made of Trump, the operator of McIver’s page said, “I do not support the #OrangeMenace.”
McIver herself did not respond to a request for further comment from The Daily Beast about the accounts in her name.
For now, McIver’s impersonators are acting with impunity and tricking supporters and reporters alike. Whether the Twitter account is actually an invention of the Trump staffers or just an elaborate troll, the campaign that allowed its candidate to retweet images from white supremacists is again indicating that social media is not its strongest suit.