CNN's Cuomo Challenges Manafort To Admit The Truth: "It’s As Plain As Day” That The Speech Was Plagiarized; “Can You Acknowledge That?”
Chris Cuomo: "I Can’t Move On, Because You Keep Lying About It”
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From the July 20 edition of CNN's New Day:
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CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Paul, thank you very much for coming back on the show to discuss this. The first proposition I think to get out of the way is the simplest in many ways. The speech had portions of it that came from Michelle Obama's speech in 2008. It’s as plain as day to look at them side-by-side. Can you acknowledge that, and then move on?
PAUL MANAFORT: What I'm going to do Chris, and you're right, for the final time, is to say that the speech that Melania Trump gave was a speech that she felt was very personal to her. It was a speech that talked about her love of a country, how she immigrated here, the opportunities that America gave to her as she came here, and it talked about meeting a man named Donald Trump who she fell in love with and raised a family with. And she wanted to talk to the American people about those personal feelings and thoughts. The speech was very effective. It communicated those feelings. The controversy that you're talking about is not meaningful at all. She is not a candidate for office. She was expressing her personal feelings about her country and her husband, and why he’s best for the United States. And I agree, that that's the final word.
CUOMO: Except, Paul, all of that can be true, except that you are denying by, failing to acknowledge, something that is also true, which is that some of those words came from Michelle Obama's speech in 2008. You have every kind of expert and anybody with eyes who sees that, you keep ignoring it. I don't understand why. I don't understand why you keep making this an issue.
MANAFORT: Because it’s a speech that she gave, talking about her feelings. She’s not a candidate for office. I could get into all of the reasons again. It doesn’t make sense to go backwards. I think what we want to talk about today is that today the Republican party has a nominee for president. That nominee who started a campaign about a year ago, everybody said was a long shot and then as it got -- the chances got shorter and shorter and more likely, everybody kept saying why it wouldn't happen. And then last night, at 7:17 [p.m.], Donald Trump became the nominee of the Republican party, defying all the conventional wisdom and put himself in a position to become the 45th president of the United States. That's the story. He’s the candidate running for president. It’s his vision that the American people are going to be talking about. And we are all excited that in the last two nights, between Melania's speech and the speeches by Don Jr. and Tiffany Trump yesterday, the American people are beginning to get a glimpse beyond the campaign image of Donald Trump into the real man. We're excited about it. The convention is working, as far as we're concerned. Tonight, we're especially excited that Gov. [Mike] Pence, Donald Trump’s nominee for vice president, is going to get a chance to come on stage and present his credentials, which we think will further embellish the chances of our party.
CUOMO: Paul, I understand all of that. The reason that this matters, though, is that frankly you're distracting from that story line by refusing to acknowledge something that is true, and it plays into two issues. The first is, a big part of the case I'm hearing here at the convention 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 is true or not. Whether it is the man who has a developmental disability who works for The New York Times, and Donald Trump mocks him and then says, “No, I didn't.” Whether it is a star that represents the Star of David, and you say no, it is a sheriff's star. There is a pattern, whether it is Baron, John Miller, that was really Donald Trump. There is 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 just own this little thing and move on.
MANAFORT: Well, Chris, I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder, because the pattern I see is a pattern of the media not being prepared to look at what's really going on in America, not look at what’s really happening in the Trump campaign, look at what really is being tapped into and looking at why it is working. Not why it's failing, why it's working. Because, over the last ten months, as you've all been pointing out things which aren't true, to say this will be a problem for the Trump campaign. You've been wrong, consistently. The American people disagree with your perceptions of all the things you just said.
CUOMO: But there’s two different things.
MANAFORT: No, it isn’t. It’s the same thing.
CUOMO: There are two different things.
MANAFORT: You're looking at things that don't exist -- you’re looking at things that don’t exist and you’re not focusing on the broader message that does exist, and which the American people are responding to. Last night, Donald Trump contrary to everything you said was nominated president of the United States.
CUOMO: Paul, that is demonstrably untrue. But that's untrue. That’s untrue and I don't know where you were at the beginning of this campaign, but I would have loved to talk to you then and say, “Do you think Donald Trump’s going to be the nominee?” I don't think it makes you crazy or jaundice to have been surprised by it. And there’s also no question you deserve a lot of credit for you getting him where he was last night and you know I’ve said that openly and often. But I've got to go back to this other point though, Paul, I just have to. 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. It’s about the truth and that's all it is about. The language came from Michelle Obama's speech.
MANAFORT: The truth is the words, 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 she was communicating. That's the truth. And that message reflected her heart.
CUOMO: 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.
MANAFORT: Well then move on.
CUOMO: 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.