On Tuesday night, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo confronted Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort about the Trump campaign’s refusal to admit that Melania Trump did anything wrong in plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech for Trump’s own RNC speech. Manafort repeatedly tried to dodge the question, but Cuomo, acusing Manafort of lying, pursued him until he got an evasive answer.
Cuomo began by explaining that the reason the Trump campaign’s stonewalling of the issue was a concern:
The reason that this matters though, is that frankly, you’re distracting from that story line by refusing to acknowledge that it’s true, and it plays into two issues. The first is: a big part of the case I’m hearing here at the convention here for why Donald Trump needs to be president is that Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted, that she doesn’t level with the American people, which is another way of saying, she lies. That is what this is going on right now with this issue that should be small about this speech. You don’t like that you got caught with some of Michelle Obama’s language in the speech; who knows how it happened. You had a big group working with Melania on it. You don’t want to acknowledge it because that’s the way this campaign works.
That plays into the second problem, which is that when faced with something that you did wrong, you just deny it, no matter whether it’s true or not, whether it’s the man who has a develop mental disability who works for the New York Times and Donald Trump mocks him and says “No, I didn’t:, whether it’s a star that represents the Star of David and you say, “No, it’s a sheriff’s star.” There is a pattern, whether it’s “Barron John Miller” that was really Donald Trump. There’s a pattern of denying the obvious. What happens when you’re running the government of the United States and you don’t want to deal with what happens then? That’s the concern. That’s why I don’t understand you won’t own this little thing and move on.
Manafort deflected, attacking the media for concentrating on “Things that aren’t true,” instead of focusing on Trump’s success.
Cuomo persisted: “The idea that we’re ignoring something that doesn’t matter flies in the face of what we’re about. This is about the truth. The truth. And that’s all that it’s about. The language came from Michelle Obama’s speech.”
Manafort responded, “The truth, the truth is the feelings that were expressed by Melania Trump that night which you don’t want to focus on. It was the message that she was communicating. That’s the truth.”
Cuomo fired back, “Of course I want to focus on it; we say she gave a good speech. We say it was compelling. The words were the same as Michelle Obama’s.”
Manafort, smiling: “Well then, move on. Move on.”
Cuomo pressed his attack, “But I can’t move on, because you keep lying about it so I can’t move on from it. Because I have to talk about what is true.”
Manafort said, “Chris, I’m not lying about anything.”
Cuomo, exasperated: “Did a portion of the speech come from Michelle Obama’s, yes or no?”
Manafort, countered, “As far as we’re concerned, there are similar words that were used, we’ve said that, but the feelings of those words and the commonality of those words do not create a situation which we feel we have to agree with you.”