Phoenix lawyer: Melania Trump's speech 'absolutely' plagiarized, but she's not first to do it

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jul 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-19 23:37:02-04

It is the burning question overshadowing the basis of the Republican National Convention--Did Melania Trump plagiarize a speech from Michelle Obama?

To Phoenix lawyer Dan Barr, the question is not whether or not there was campaign copying going Monday night.

"Oh, it's definitely plagiarism," Barr said. "I mean, I don't know how intentional it was or how accidental."

The real question in his mind is, "How did it happen?"

"Clearly, somebody at some point [heard] Michelle Obama's speech and lifted language from there," Barr said.

Barr helped draft an 11-page document for Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The school has a strict policy of failing or dismissing students from school if they are caught intentionally plagiarizing their work. 

"Obviously, Melania Trump isn't going to get punished for this, as far as being thrown out of school and everything like that, but the fact that everyone is talking about this today shows how corrosive plagiarism is," Barr said. 

Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also weighed in from the Republican National Convention, telling ABC15 that if the speech was truly ripped off, someone needs to take the fall.

"In my mind, whoever the staffer was should step forward, take responsibility for it and resign," Brewer said. "You know, that's what staffers do when they make mistakes. They take the bullet. It didn't have anything to do with her [Melania Trump]."

But, plagiarism in politics is nothing new. It helped end Joe Biden's run for President back in 1988 when he was accused of mimicking a speech.

President Barack Obama was also accused "lifting rhetoric" during his first run for the White House in 2008, taking words from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. His press secretary addressed that claim on Tuesday. 

"When asked, the President felt like it was important to give credit to his friend, Deval Patrick, who had been a source of inspiration for him."

While there is no broken law or fee in place for those who do plagiarize, Barr said, it is the voters decision on whether this one is a deal breaker.