White House avoids questions on Melania Trump plagiarism charges

White House avoids questions on Melania Trump plagiarism charges
© Greg Nash

President Obama’s top spokesman on Thursday ducked questions about accusations that Melania Trump plagiarized first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama to present Lin-Manuel Miranda with the Portrait of a Nation Prize Michelle Obama thanks her high school for naming new athletic complex after her US ambassador to Germany calls out journalists who blocked him on Twitter MORE’s 2008 convention speech.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president is aware of the news coverage of the incident but declined to weigh in on whether Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies MORE’s wife intentionally lifted passages from the first lady during her Monday speech to the Republican National Convention. 
 
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“As it relates to Mrs. Trump’s speech, I’ll let all of you weigh in on that and try to learn more about how exactly it was written,” he told reporters. 
 
“What I can say is that in 2008, when Mrs. Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, she received an enthusiastic reception and strong reviews because of her words, her life stories and the values her and her husband deeply believe in and instill in their kids.”
 
Michelle Obama did not mention the episode during a White House event earlier Tuesday. But Earnest said he is “quite confident that she agrees with the sentiment of the response that I just relayed.”
 
Melania Trump's speech on Monday included some exact words and phrases from a passage in Michelle Obama's remarks at the Denver convention eight years ago. 
 
But the Trump campaign has been defiant in batting down the accusations. 
 
"These are values, Republican values by the way, of hard work, determination, family values, dedication and respect, and that's Melania Trump," spokeswoman Katrina Pierson told The Hill. "This concept that Michelle Obama invented the English language is absurd."