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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Sources: Trump Furious over Melania Speech Controversy; Lewandowski: Heads Should Role of Speech Controversy. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired July 19, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:11:17] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those opposed shall say no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
RUDY GIULIANI, (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Who would trust Hillary Clinton to protect them? I wouldn't!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crooked Hillary Clinton, leave this race now!
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It is my great honor to present the next first lady.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Plagiarizing section of Michelle Obama's speech.
MELANIA TRUMP, (R), WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: The only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams.
TRUMP: We're going to win so big. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to win so big.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We're live in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. A beautiful day here in Cleveland.
The breaking news, life lesson: If you are going to give a major campaign defining speech, make sure no one else gave it first.
BERMAN: Life lesson: If you're going to give a major campaign defining speech, make sure no one else gave it first.
BOLDUAN: Exactly. The Trump campaign is in cleanup overdrive this morning. The first headliner of the convention, Melania Trump, delivered a speech that looks, smells and feels a lot like key parts were plagiarized from portions of Michelle Obama's first address in the Democratic National Convention back in 2008.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said this morning he'd probably fire the speech writer responsible.
Prior to the speech, Melania Trump said she wrote the speech with a little help.
BERMAN: The Trump campaign is denying that Melania Trump stole Michelle Obama's words. Judge for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values --
MELANIA TRUMP: From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values --
OBAMA: You work hard for what you want in life.
MELANIA TRUMP: That you work hard for what you want in life.
OBAMA: That your word is your bond, that you do what you say you're going to do.
MELANIA TRUMP: That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise.
OBAMA: That you treat people --
OBAMA: -- with dignity and respect even if you don't know them and even if you don't agree with them.
MELANIA TRUMP: That you treat people with respect.
OBAMA: Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them on to the next generation.
MELANIA TRUMP: And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow.
OBAMA: And because we want our children and all children in this nation to know --
MELANIA TRUMP: Because we want our children in this nation to know --
OBAMA: -- that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.
MELANIA TRUMP: -- that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. Let's go live to CNN's Phil Mattingly inside the convention hall who has been reporting on this.
Phil, who wrote what for whom and when?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think there's a big question on that. I spoke to Paul Manafort this morning. He made clear this was a team effort and obviously it went through its stages and approvals. One other thing Paul Manafort made very clear, both to me this morning and repeatedly throughout the day, this was not plagiarism. The campaign did not crib from Michelle Obama's speech, and why would Melania Trump ever try to do that given that she would give one of the more highly scrutinized speeches of the convention. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL MANAFORT, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There was no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech. These are common words and values, that she cares about her family, things like that. She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy. This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It's not going to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Guys, we're about 13, 14 months into the Trump campaign. That's a pretty familiar strategy right now. When they're questioned, when they believe they're under attack, they don't gather everybody together and cower. They attack. That's what you saw from Paul Manafort right there. That's what we've seen throughout the day today.
There's an interesting point here. This is a very important day for Donald Trump's convention. His nomination is considered today. There's some thought that if they can get through this morning and into the afternoon and evening program, you've got Chris Christie, Donald Trump Jr, that they can get past this. There's no question about it, guys. When you look at what last night was supposed to be and what we're talking about this morning, there's a bit of a sense of frustration, this is not what they wanted at the start of day two of this convention.
[11:05:30] BERMAN: Not indeed. Blame the media, blame Hillary Clinton.
Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.
Let's bring in someone who knows how this process works or is supposed to work, Donald former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. He's receiving severance from the Trump campaign. He'll be the chair of the New Hampshire delegation at the convention. He's a CNN political commentator.
Corey, you've been there, you've been with this campaign, how is this speech writing process supposed to work?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, here is what I think. I think Mrs. Trump is an extremely an articulate, smart, successful woman who had an idea of what she wanted to say to the American people. This is her first opportunity to talk directly to the American people, 35 million people. I think she laid out her vision and asked the team to put together some thoughts based on the overarching goals she wanted to achieve.
BERMAN: She has to lay out her vision and someone in the campaign laid out Michelle Obama's vision?
LEWANDOWSKI: I don't know the intricacies of how the speech came to be. I think what did happen was Mrs. Trump probably said I want to talk about my childhood, I want to talk about my childhood, my sister, my husband. Here is what I want to talk about as a U.S. citizen. Somebody, a staff person, who should be held accountable -- I agree with Reince Priebus, whoever wrote the speech should be made accountable and fired. I know accountability.
LEWANDOWSKI: I know accountability in the Trump campaign. I know what it's like to be fired from the Trump campaign. We know this. When you do something that is so egregious, that the story today is not how great Melania Trump was and how successful the convention will be, but is because a staff didn't do their job properly, there have to be accountability. There's accountability in everything we do. I've had that accountability. Someone should be held to that same standard.
BOLDUAN: Do you think this is just someone being sloppy? The criticism that has come of the Trump campaign is the campaign is disorganized. Is this an example of that or just sloppy?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think probably a little bit of both. What I think you have -- the RNC is taking a much larger role in the campaign and their research team is involved in part of this. You have the Trump campaign. Someone through the convention process is making sure they know what Chris Christie was going to say and what Joni Ernst is going to say. Someone at the senior levels of the campaign has reviewed what Melania Trump was going to say and signed off on that. Whether they're held responsible, because the buck stops at the top, or the person who actually put the words to paper is held responsible. I think it's shameful that she represents her husband and would represent the country as a first lady is under this controversy because the staff didn't do her well. BERMAN: You call it a mistake. That's not what the campaign is saying so far. Paul Manafort basically said nothing to see here, this is what you get when you attack Hillary Clinton. Chris Christie, a major surrogate, says, no, no, no, it's not plagiarism because 93 percent of it wasn't what Michelle Obama said. You're saying something completely different. You're saying there was a big mistake and someone should be fired.
LEWANDOWSKI: What I'm saying is if what is being reported is accurate that 23 of the 26 words and two paragraphs are exactly the same as Michelle Obama's --
LEWANDOWSKI: They should have seen that. They should have seen that.
BOLDUAN: Do you think that's plagiarism, what we played at the top?
LEWANDOWSKI: What I think is somebody writing the speech for Melania Trump I'm sure went back and looked at what Mrs. Obama said and for some reason decided that is something they want to put in there. Look, this is not on Mrs. Trump. Mrs. Trump, I will be guaranteed to say she was not familiar with what Michele Obama said in the past.
BOLDUAN: She did say in an interview that she wrote the speech with a little bit of help.
LEWANDOWSKI: With help, of course. Remember, Melania Trump speaks four languages, unbelievably intelligent. This is not her native language.
BOLDUAN: I'm not questioning her intelligence --
LEWANDOWSKI: She relied on other people to make sure the speech was right and that it went through the process which all convention speeches do. When Chris Christie gave the keynote speech four years ago, the Romney team looked at it, vetted it. That's the process every speech goes through for the conventions because it's a high- profile speech.
BERMAN: You think the statements made in the speech writing process. How about in the cleanup process now, Corey? We're 12 hours since Melania's speech-gate was delivered and we're getting mixed messages at best from the campaign. What's your assessment of how they handled it?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think they're probably concerned internally. That's what I think. I think this is not the type of Tuesday they wanted to have, Tuesday morning. They wanted to have the success that Melania Trump brought to the convention. The floor was electric. She looked amazing, delivered a fantastic speech. That should have been the narrative this morning, not talking about a mistake that the staff made and didn't catch properly. I think going into the afternoon, that will go by the wayside because they have roll call vote and Donald Trump officially becomes the nominee today based on the roll call. This morning, it's something that probably could have been avoided.
[11:10:21] BOLDUAN: Corey, you said someone on the staff level is responsible for this. You also said you don't know -- it could go all the way to the top. All the way to the top would be Paul Manafort, who has been out there saying there's no way this was plagiarized. Do you think the buck stops with Paul Manafort on this?
LEWANDOWSKI: When I was the campaign manager, the buck stopped with me, and I'm sitting here with CNN now. At the end of the day, when you're the convention manager, you're in charge of the convention. There is no detail too small, particularly when you are looking at and scrutinizing the GOP nominee's wife to give the largest speech in front of 35 million people. There is no detail you should overlook.
BERMAN: Paul Manafort, you're saying, bears some responsibility for this?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think someone at the staff level does. Paul is at the top of that, and he should find out who is ultimately responsible for putting that information in and allowing it to go forward and hold that person accountable.
BOLDUAN: Corey, the Trump campaign is not known for apologizing. You yourself, not known for saying I'm sorry or apologizing. Do you think those are words we'll hear come out of anyone's mouth during the cleanup process?
LEWANDOWSKI: You don't need to apologize. You need accountability. I've been held accountable in this campaign. Other people should be held accountable. You don't need to apologize, but you need to fix it so it doesn't happen again. Who is to say this staff person isn't involved tonight and doesn't make the same mistake again?
BERMAN: Corey, who are talking about needs to do this? Are you talking about Donald Trump needs to do this or Paul Manafort?
LEWANDOWSKI: Paul needs to take a deep look inside, understand what the process was, make sure the protocols were in place, make sure there is a check and balance for ever speak going forward. Whoever was the final sign-off that allowed this to go forward.
BERMAN: If it was Paul Manafort, he would do the right thing and resign?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think if it was Paul Manafort, he'd do the right thing and resign.
BOLDUAN: You think Paul Manafort will resign --
LEWANDOWSKI: If he's the last person that saw this and saw this happen and has brought this on the candidate's wife, I think he would resign.
BOLDUAN: You not so long ago were in this campaign. What was the process when you were in the campaign? Was the process you would sign off?
LEWANDOWSKI: Of course.
BOLDUAN: On speeches?
LEWANDOWSKI: Of course.
BOLDUAN: You think Paul Manafort's signed off on this?
LEWANDOWSKI: I don't know. Maybe there was someone else. Paul has a giant role as a convention manager, maybe looking at a number of different things. It's possible Paul didn't see the speech ahead of time. Someone at the senior levels of the campaign did see the speech, whether the communications team or someone helping at the convention or someone at the RNC. There's accountability in life.
BERMAN: Finally, if someone doesn't resign or doesn't end up pushed off the campaign, you would think what?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think it's unfortunate that Mrs. Trump is subject to this because of a staff mistake and she should never have been subject to it. She's too good for that.
BERMAN: All right. Corey Lewandowski, thanks so much. I thin you made some news.
BOLDUAN: Corey, thanks for your time.
Coming up next, during one of the more emotional speeches of the night, Donald Trump decided to do some counterprogramming. He called into FOX News during a very emotional and passionate speech. You'll talk about what was the strategy behind it, the thought behind it. We'll discuss.
BERMAN: Plus, we have a panel of insiders that will discuss what Corey Lewandowski had to say, that someone's head should roll, and Paul Manafort, if he had a role in this speech, should resign.
[11:17:30] BERMAN: All right. This just in to CNN. While we were in commercial, CNN has learned from the Trump campaign that it has no plans, no plans to fire anyone involved with Melania Trump's speech last night over the plagiarism controversy, no plans at all. The campaign's posture I'm reading now is simply to move on from this without addressing it any further.
BOLDUAN: That said, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski, who was just sitting here with us, said someone should be fired, they need to address it. And if the campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, signed or saw off on that speech, he should resign, is what Corey Lewandowski told us. Let's bring in Jim Geraghty, senior political correspondent for the
"National Review"; alike Stewart, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz; and Andre Bower, Donald Trump supporter, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina; and Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to President Obama.
Thank you for being here. Hope you didn't blink. A lot just happened in the last few minutes.
Jim, what John said and what I said. What do you say?
JIM GERAGHTY, SENOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL REVIEW: Sure. There's a lot of ways they could have responded to this. We're flogging the speech writer who did this, it was a remix, it sounds really different when Melania says it with the accent. There are a lot of excuses. Instead, who are going to believe, us or your lying ears? At the very least they could have sent a small speech writing fee to Michelle Obama.
BERMAN: Alice, Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager to Donald Trump, is obviously close somehow to Trump or people within the campaign, basically told us, yes, it sounded like plagiarism, that someone should be fired and basically just sold Paul Manafort out as big as you possibly can. To me, that indicates a high degree of discord within Trump world.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, clearly. Clearly there is. First and foremost, it was a phenomenal speech. She did a great job but here we are talking about this. There's a couple things. Any attempt to try and tell people that there was not lifting of Michelle Obama's speech is insulting to try to pass that on to people. It's embarrassing to Melania, who gave a great speech. For them not to take action is completely the wrong steps to take. I can assure you on the Ted Cruz campaign, if this has happened, someone's head would have been rolling out the door by midnight last night.
STEWART: And also the fact, you know exactly who writes those speeches, you know exactly who tracks the changes. If someone goes into the speech and changes a period to a comma, you know who does the changes. They know exactly the entire process from start to finish, who wrote this, and that person should absolutely be held accountable.
[11:20:11] Andre, are they making it worse now? What do you say?
ANDRE BOWER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, I would say in all the years I ran for office, I wish I could find a supermodel to say all the nice things about me. She gave a fantastic speech, class, dignity, grace, exactly what you'd want out of a first lady.
BOLDUAN: No one disputing that part.
BOWER: It's totally overshadowed by this turning into a fiasco and dominating the news cycle where there was so many great points of the convention yesterday that we're not talking about at all. They've got to take action, find a way to stop it and move forward. And it doesn't look like right now that's happening.
BERMAN: Whose fiasco is it, just to be clear?
BOWER: It's the Republican Party's fiasco. We altogether want to see Donald Trump elected as president and move the country in that direction. So all of us share part of that problem, and we can blame it on one person, but something has got to be done to move forward and continue to move a message. That's what's supposed to happen at this convention, not was there plagiarism involved. It doesn't look as good as what we would want the message to be.
BOLDUAN: Dan, Paul Manafort this morning tried to turn the focus to Hillary Clinton. He said this is what you get when you have a strong woman standing up to Hillary Clinton, they try to take her out or demean her, close to quoting him. You've been involved in speeches like this. Could this happen if this isn't plagiarism?
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. This is obviously plagiarism. Obviously, a grievous error on behalf of someone on the Trump campaign.
BOLDUAN: Who is that someone? You've been involved in this.
PFEIFFER: Someone wrote that speech with the guidance of Melania Trump and the rest of the campaign leadership, but someone wrote that speech. They know who that person is and they seem unwilling to take action on that. They made a huge mistake and they're compounding it every lie. You made a mistake, move on, we'd probably get bored and move on. Every time Paul Manafort goes on television or sends out an e-mail or statement today, they're making it worse. The whole thing, whether the plagiarism, the scheduling last messaging was real amateur hour. Conventions are supposed to be four nights of positive coverage. They screwed up the first night with this and then with Joni Ernst who is supposed to be making the appeal to Republican women for Donald Trump speaking to am empty arena after prime time is over.
BERMAN: Does anyone care to weigh in, -- maybe, Jim, you do, from Corey Lewandowski -- sticking the knife in the back of Paul Manafort in a public way.
GERAGHTY: It's sounds unlike him, doesn't it?
BOLDUAN: This might be the first kind of public admission that there was discord. Remember all public statements were we all got along.
GERAGHTY: For Lewandowski to come out saying Manafort should be going -- I wonder who he'd replace him with. I saw him leaving the set really quick, as if he was auditions for something. I don't know. BOLDUAN: You stop it right now.
BOLDUAN: Here is the one thing I do wonder. It is, while Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign say they're not going to talk about it anymore, they're going to move on, does this translate, does this bother delegates? Does this bother Republicans at home? Does this bother voters who are maybe seeing Melania Trump for the first time?
That's what part of the convention about, Andre, presenting these arguments, this passion, this story, these people to an audience that might not be watching on a daily basis.
BOWER: Absolutely. To me it's not so much about the folks in the arena because we know they're going to support the team what we're concerned about are voters, especially in the few states where it decides the presidential election. This is a free shot at a message that you get to dictate for the most part, if you do it right, and we're missing that opportunity right now. We have four days, 25 percent of us is now gone. I see it as a real opportunity lost to try to appeal to folks that are in the middle and trying to decide where their vote is going to do.
BERMAN: Alice, you've done a lot in of P.R. and politic before, given they're not going to apologize, given they're not going to --
BOLDUAN: Free advice time.
STEWART: That's the key. I think most people watching that speech thought it was a phenomenal speech and they will give a pass for the fact that a lot of this was lifted. Today we're supposed to be talking about make America work again. And we're talking about make America wonder what they're going to do about this again, because they haven't taken decisive action. If I were to give them advice, certainly hold someone accountable, call out who the person is, because American people need to know how this campaign will handle a crisis. When the true crisis does come along, it's not a forced error on their own part, they need to see them take swift and decisive action which they have not done in this case.
BOLDUAN: Make America wonder what the heck they're doing does not have the same ring to it.
BERMAN: Guys, thanks for being here.
[11:25:06] BOLDUAN: Coming up next for us, we'll play our favorite game, "blank" woke up this morning feeling and saying what. It's a very fun game. You'll enjoy it. A new panel joining us from Cleveland. The fun continues. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BOLDUAN: It is day two of the GOP convention here in Cleveland. Beautiful view outside the "Q." I just love an opportunity to say that. The big business of the day, Donald Trump will officially be nominated. If yesterday's floor chaos is any preview, what will today bring?
BERMAN: Joining us to discuss, CNN commentator, Bakari Sellers, a Trump supporter; and CNN political commentator, Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump supporter; Alex Conan --
BOLDUAN: Can any of you out there understand him?