Meredith McIver, a speechwriter for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and in-house staff writer for the Trump Organization, is taking the fall for Melania Trump‘s 2016 GOP National Convention speech, which appears to have plagiarized First Lady Michelle Obama‘s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech.
Melania Trump’s speech was the keynote on the opening night of the 2016 RNC.
McIver, who lives in the Upper West Side of New York City, according to public records, did not return a call to a number listed for her.
Here is what you need to know about McIver:
1. McIver Says She Offered to Resign, but the Trump Family Rejected Her Offer
The Trump Organization identified McIver in a statement released Wednesday in which she took responsibility for the “mistake”.
According to her statement, McIver felt so bad about plagiarizing Obama’s 2008 speech and “the chaos” it caused the parties that she tendered her resignation. “[B]ut they rejected it,” she said.
“Mr. Trump told me people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences. I asked to put out this statement because I did not like seeing the way this was distracting from Mr. Trump’s historic campaign for president and Melania’s beautiful message and presentation,” she said.
You can read the full statement below:
My name is Meredith McIver and I’m an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization. I am also a longtime friend and admirer of the Trump family.
In working with Melania Trump on her recent First Lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. 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. 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.
Yesterday, 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.
I asked to put out this statement because I did not like seeing the way this was distracting from Mr. Trump’s historic campaign for president and Melania’s beautiful message and presentation.
I apologize for the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused. Today, more than ever, I am honored to work for such a great family. I personally admire the way Mr. Trump has handled this situation and I am grateful for his understanding.
Trump talked about McIver in an interview with ABC:
You can watch that full interview here.
2. McIver, a Registered Democrat, Was a Ballerina Before Majoring in English at the University of Utah
McIver has worked for Trump’s organization since 2001, according to her biography on the website for All American Speakers Bureau, which serves as her booking agent for speaking engagements.
The biography says she worked “on Wall Street” before joining Trump’s company. She is also a former ballerina.
“Originally from San Jose, California, Meredith started her career at age 14 as a Ford Foundation Scholar, when she began training at George Balachine’s School of American Ballet. She graduated with honors from the University of Utah in English, and has worked as an editor and writer,” her biography says.
McIver lives in Manhattan and is a registered Democrat, according to New York State Board of Elections records:
On the speakers’ bureau website, McIver as pitched as being able to speak about Donald Trump’s success story.
“With his luxury buildings, award-winning golf courses, high-stakes casinos, and glamorous beauty pageants, Donald J. Trump is one of a kind in American business. Every day, he lives the American dream. Now Ms. McIver will show you how he’s done it!,” the website says.
3. McIver Has Worked for the Trump Family, Including Ghostwriting
A listing for Meredith McIver with publishing company Simon & Schuster indicates she’s worked for the Trump family before. The New York Times reports she was a ghostwriter for books like “Think Like a Billionaire,” the 2004 publication by Trump on “success,” “real estate” and “life.”
She was also a ghostwriter for “Trump: How to Get Rich.”
“Ms. McIver assists in presenting Trump’s lessons learned from ‘The Apprentice,’ his real estate empire, his position as head of the 20,000-member Trump Organization, and his most important role, as a father who has successfully taught his children the value of money and hard work,” the All American Speakers Bureau says about her work on that book.
Her statement released Wednesday acknowledges her prior work with the Trump Organization, too.
“Today, more than ever, I am honored to work for such a great family.”
4. The Speech Writing Process Was Exhaustive & McIver Was ‘Trusted’
The New York Times explained in an article that the speechwriting process for Trump, citing anonymous sources, was exhaustive and went through a number of hands before arriving at a “trusted” person in McIver.
In her statement, McIver points out that she asked Trump about the people who inspire her. One of the answers, she said, was Michelle Obama. “A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama,” it reads.
“Research for the speech, it seems, drew them to the previous convention speeches delivered by candidates’ spouses,” the New York Times article states.
5. The First Draft of Melania Trump’s Speech Didn’t Include the Apparent Plagiarism
The first draft of Melania Trump’s speech was written by Matthew Scully and John McConnell, veteran political speechwriters, according to the New York Times. But that version of the speech was rejected by Melania, the Times reports.
She then began re-working it with the help of McIver.
“I read it once over, and that’s all because I wrote it with as little help as possible,” she told NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview just hours before the speech.
In Vanity Fair, Emily Jane Fox writes: “It seems almost unbelievable that the Trumps would put what would be one of the most important, closely watched moments of the convention in the hands of a ballerina who read books in college, even knowing how much trust Trump puts in his ghostwriters.
“Even if this theory is accepted, that McIver was inspired by the First Lady’s speech and threw in a few similar lines, it is unorthodox, even negligent that the campaign did not vet each word, ensuring that they were McIver’s and McIver’s alone. The Times’s sources suggested that in conventions past, every word of every speech is parsed and vetted to check for this kind of plagiarism,” the article states.