CLEVELAND — On Wednesday, Meredith McIver — a writer employed by Donald Trump's business — took the blame for plagiarizing sections of the speech that Melania Trump gave to the GOP convention on Monday night.
That was not the first time McIver had taken the blame for an embarrassing Trump family mistake.
In 2007, when Donald Trump was testifying in a deposition related to a civil suit, he blamed McIver twice for factual errors inserted into two of his books.
"This is somebody that wrote it, probably Meredith McIver," Trump said in that deposition, explaining how one of the errors had been made. "That is a mistake."
The deposition was part of a lawsuit that Trump filed against Timothy L. O'Brien, then a business reporter at the New York Times. O'Brien wrote a book, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald,” in which he concluded that Trump was worth substantially less than he claimed. Trump sued, claiming harm to his business, and sought $5 billion in damages.
In that deposition, one of O'Brien's attorneys, Andrew Ceresney, questioned Trump about his past claims about his net worth, asking if Trump had exaggerated the highs and lows of his career. McIver's name came up in a line of questioning about the lowest low: a period in the early 1990s when Trump was deeply in debt.
It appeared that Trump had exaggerated the lows, to make his comeback seem even more impressive.
The errors appeared in two books that portrayed Trump as a scrappy entrepreneur who fought his way back to riches following the bankruptcies of three of his Atlantic City casinos in the early 1990s.
"I owed billions upon billions of dollars, $9.2 billion to be exact," Trump wrote in his 2004 book, "How to Get Rich." McIver, who has worked for the Trump Organization since 2001, served as a co-writer on that book. "... In the midst of the crash, I passed a beggar [on] the street and realized he was worth $9.2 billion more than I was."
"Now, in here you said your liabilities were $9.2 billion, to be exact. Is that correct?" Ceresney said.
"Yes," Trump said.
"Was that an accurate number?"
"No, that is a mistake," Trump said. "And I don't know it got in there."
Trump said he wasn't actually sure how big his debts had gotten during that period. He preferred just to say "billions."
"I pointed it out to the person who wrote the book," Trump said, meaning McIver. But not until the book was already out.
The attorney then brought up another Trump book: "Trump 101: The Way to Success." It came out in 2006, two years later.
It was also written with McIver.
It was also wrong.
"I told the book writer about it, and she obviously put it in again. She probably forgot," Trump said, when asked why he had listed a debt of about $9 billion. "I would love you to question her about it."
Cerseney, the attorney questioning Trump, pressed him. Trump was listed as the book's main author. Why didn't he catch the error in his own book?
"I didn't see it," Trump said, meaning the erroneous figure about his debt.
"You didn't see it," the attorney repeated.
"I read it very quickly. I didn't see it," Trump said. "I would have corrected it, but I didn't see it."
Ceresney is now a top lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Efforts to reach him for comment have not been successful. Trump spent five years and more than $1 million pursuing the case, but it was dismissed by a judge in 2009.
Robert O'Harrow Jr. contributed to this report.