Donald Trump aide Meredith McIver, apologies over Melania Trump plagiarism incident

July 21, 2016 5:58 am

, wife of
presumptive Republican presidential nominee , delivers a
speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July
18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP photo)

A Donald Trump campaign
staffer has apologized after the US Republican presidential nominee’s
wife was accused of using remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama in a
speech broadcast live to millions of people.

Melania
Trump’s Monday address to the Republican National Convention contained
similarities to a 2008 convention speech by US President Barack Obama’s
wife, Michelle.
In a written statement on Wednesday evening,
Meredith McIver admitted she made a mistake by not checking Michelle
Obama’s former speeches.
The statement said McIver offered to resign but the Republican presidential nominee had rejected the offer.
McIver
explained that she included the parts from Michelle Obama’s speech
after listening to Melania read passages from the First Lady’s 2008
speech.
“Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs.
Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of
the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech,” she
said.
“I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This 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,” she stated.

Michelle Obama speaks on August 25, 2008 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. (Getty Images)Donald Trump did not accept McIver’s resignation, calling her error “an innocent mistake.”
“She made a mistake … we all make mistakes,” Trump told ABC .
In tweets, Trump said he was proud of the fact that his wife’s address “got more attention than any in the history of .”
Melania Trump had claimed she wrote her speech “with as little help as possible.”

Meredith McIver, an employee valued by Donald Trump for her
discretion and writing, took responsibility for the plagiarised portions
of Melania’s Trump’s speech to the Republican National Convention,
thrusting a little-known loyalist into the spotlight she had long
avoided.
But she wasn’t fired.
“Yesterday, I offered my
resignation to Mr Trump and the Trump family, but they rejected it. Mr
Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and
grow from these experiences,” McIver wrote in a statement adorned with
the Trump Organisation’s gold-lettered logo.
Trump’s handling of
the episode gave a rare glimpse into the shrouded and deeply personal
culture of his New York-based real estate conglomerate, the Trump
Organisation, where three of his adult children serve as executives and
many staffers describe themselves as part of a family with a dominant
patriarch.

As Trump prepares to accept his party’s presidential
nomination in Cleveland tomorrow, it was also a vivid reminder that the
brash candidate remains a figure universally recognised but enigmatic as
a leader, in particular over how he singularly manages the private
company that he has called home for his entire professional life – and
which would surely be a model for how he would arrange his White House.
Beyond
the dramatic “you’re fired” part of Trump’s persona, and his penchant
for shaking up his high command in business or his presidential
campaign, you’ll find a 70-year-old businessman who places a premium on
finding and keeping hires who are utterly devoted to him and his gilded
kingdom of skyscrapers and golf courses.
It is that tight-knit,
obedient formation of mid-level confidants – the long-serving advisers
and assistants, the security and legal personnel – that forms the mostly
unnoticed core of Trump’s organisation, and of his life. The setup has
enabled him to lead as he does, barking decisions and making a flurry of
phone calls from his 26th-floor executive suite in Trump Tower.
While
Trump consults them and listens carefully to their updates on the
latest price of glass windows in Scotland or acreage in Palm Beach, it
is always him at the centre, him deciding. Understanding that dynamic
and earning his trust within it has led to decades-long tenures for
those who are more interested in helping Trump than sharing his power.
This is not an all-Ivy League club or a coterie
with Wall Street polish. What a majority share, besides their reverence
for “Mr Trump,” are backgrounds that often have links to blue-collar New
York or to experiences outside elite circles – and an innate aversion
to taking any attention away from a boss who covets it.
According
to her biography on a speakers’ website, McIver, 65, is a native of San
Jose, California, and graduated from the University of Utah. She
trained at the School of American Ballet in New York before finding her
way into Trump’s orbit, working with him on several books and becoming a
ghostwriter for both Trump and his wife whenever they were readying
public remarks.
Instead of responding promptly to the crisis that
immersed his campaign as the plagiarism became apparent, or cutting
loose McIver for the lapse, Trump was reluctant about the suggestion
that he should quickly reveal her role to the media, according to
several people close to him.
In New York away from campaign aides
and without a public schedule, he spent time connecting with McIver and
other Trump Organisation officials to discuss the situation, said one
person.
 
When McIver offered her resignation, Trump, annoyed and
angered by the swirling media reports but working on several projects,
including his upcoming nomination acceptance speech, promptly rejected
it and told her that he valued her loyalty. He reasoned that her
departure would be disruptive at a company whose internal politics and
organisation are critical to him, especially as he campaigns, said a
second person close to Trump.
During visits to Trump Tower over the past year, the Washington Post
has spotted McIver on only a few occasions. Usually she is out of
sight, not interested in meeting reporters stopping by to interview
Trump. That same head-down approach is shared by the women and men who
work in cubicles near Trump’s office, answering the phone and doing
accounting for his properties. They wait for him to call them, or yell
their way, and otherwise tend to their tasks.
Others around Trump have similar stories to McIver’s.
Michael
Cohen, the company’s executive vice-president and a lawyer, grew up on
Long Island and shares Trump’s outer-borough cadence. He has frequently
described Trump as a father-like mentor. Jason Greenblatt, a top
executive and a Jew, hails from Forest Hills, New York, and has been a
fierce defender of Trump against anti-Semitic charges, taking the
criticism personally.
Keith Schiller, a terse and tall former
detective who has for years been Trump’s ubiquitous bodyguard, and Rhona
Graff, his executive assistant and gatekeeper, has been with him since
the 1980s. Hope Hicks, now the campaign’s spokeswoman, joined the
campaign after working for the company and growing friendly with the
family.
It’s “us and blood,” as one Trump employee once put it to the Post.
Everyone working there knows that at least three of his children –
Ivanka, Donald jnr and Eric – will always play key roles in guiding the
operation and are the company’s future. But the non-Trumps still feel
protected and part of the family because of the way Trump manages
without a deputy or a corporate palace guard.
“Today, more than ever, I’m honoured to work for such a great family,” McIver wrote in her letter.
And at the Trump Organisation, the boss wants you to feel that family pull, as long as you stay in line.

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