“To say that she lifted any words from anybody is absurd,” Manafort told ABC News’ Tom Llamas. “Her speech last night was a very poignant presentation of her becoming an American citizen, falling in love with a man that she wanted to talk about.”
Manafort criticized Hillary Clinton for carping on Trump’s speech, claiming that the presumptive Democratic nominee was threatened by Trump because of her gender, echoing comments he had made on CNN’s “New Day.”
“We’ve noted that the Clinton camp was the first to get it out there in trying to say that there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave,” he told reporters today. “It’s just another example, as far as we are concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person.”
The attack on Clinton prompted a swift response from from her campaign.
"Nice try, not true," tweeted Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director.
Manafort also told Llamas that Trump was aware she was giving an extremely high-profile speech and that it would have made no sense for her to lift from Obama’s 2008 address.
“Melania Trump understood very well that her speech was going to be viewed by over 35 million Americans,” Manafort said.
Her speech quickly came under criticism when it was discovered that the parts about her upbringing and imparting values to the next generation bore remarkable similarities to Obama’s speech.
Trump told NBC News’ Matt Lauer before the speech that she wrote it with as “little help as possible.” But after allegations of plagiarism emerged, Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement that painted a somewhat different picture, and unlike Manafort, it did not categorically deny the possibility that she had borrowed some ideas.
“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,” the statement said.