The Slatest

How the Melania Plagiarism Scandal Fits Into the Ongoing Trump Family/Campaign Feud

Melania Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Monday night at the Republican National Convention, Melania Trump delivered a speech that included several lines taken directly from a speech Michelle Obama delivered in 2008. And this self-inflicted wound, two news reports and one prominent former staffer’s reaction indicate, is now deepening the perpetual power struggle inside the Trump campaign and family between the camp that wants Trump to run a somewhat professional, disciplined operation and the camp that wants him to impulsively do whatever he wants all the time.

Let’s lay out the players here.

  • Paul Manafort is Trump’s campaign manager. He advocates for a more disciplined style that will help Trump “pivot” to appeal to general-election voters and is believed to have pushed loose-cannon spontaneity-enabler Corey Lewandowski out of the campaign.
  • The Trump Organization is Trump’s corporate operation, which co-employs longtime staffers like Hope Hicks and Dan Scavino, who are both associated with the loose-cannon “let’s just wing it” side of the campaign.
  • Trump’s children from his first marriage (Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric) seem to generally support Manafort.
  • Mike Pence is Trump’s VP pick, a generic politician who Trump reportedly had qualms about picking because he’s so safe and boring and disciplined.
  • Melania Trump is Donald Trump’s wife.
  • Stealing is when you take something that’s not yours.

OK. So. Melania Trump stole a bunch of her speech from Michelle Obama. In the aftermath, the Washington Post’s Robert Costa and NBC/MSNBC’s Katy Tur and Joe Scarborough are reporting that there is finger-pointing going back and forth between the Manafort camp and the anti-Manafort camp about who is responsible. Costa:

And here’s MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough summarizing the network’s reporting. He says it’s hearing both that Manafort’s camp was involved in creating Melania’s speech and that people close to Manafort are claiming Melania herself was responsible for the plagiarism:

Meanwhile, on CNN, Corey Lewandowski said that someone needs to be fired over the incident, which, coming from Lewandowski, probably means “someone associated with Paul Manafort needs to be fired over the incident”:

A side story here is that Katy Tur is also reporting that Melania Trump was absent from the event introducing Mike Pence on Saturday because she was upset at Ivana Trump’s children for forcing Pence upon her husband.

It’s a mess, and it’s great.