Before the 2020 election, the Trump family was getting ready to take what they no doubt thought of as their divinely ordained victory lap after Donald’s inevitable re-election as US President. Alex Holder, award-winning British filmmaker based in Los Angeles, was in the right place at the right time, and the Trumps agreed to do an extensive interview that has now made headlines on the internet even while still only raw footage.
“Unprecedented”, a three-part interview, has gone from being a vanity project in which the Trump family would preen their feathers, what they themselves called a “legacy project,” to powerful evidence of their guilt in the January 6 attempted coup. The film was meant to chronicle Trump’s reelection campaign and his relationship with his adult children, Holder said. “It was not pitched as a project about Jan. 6 but instead about the Trump family and Trump as a father.”
We don’t know much yet about the raw footage since it’s an unfinished project, but apparently the docuseries, originally slated for release in the summer of 2022, would be based on straight-to-camera interviews of the former president and his family for at least 11 hours. It covers the final six weeks of the Trump presidency and also consists of hours of footage captured during the 6th of Jan, 2021, attack on the Capitol grounds. There are also two subsequent interviews, one in March and one in May of 2021.
The Trumps embraced the project wholeheartedly and Holder was given access to Air Force One, the White House and campaign events. His crew were in closer proximity to the President than his own Secret Service agents. And yet, at the same time the campaign managers did not know about the Holder project. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/23/trump-documentary-jan-6/
When news of the documentarian cooperating with the Jan. 6 congressional panel was initially reported by Politico, it caught everyone by surprise, including the closest of the Trump coterie. What the fuck is this?” a former top Trump 2020 official messaged Rolling Stone.
Given the mind-blowing surprises daily unleashed in the Congressional hearings, it wasn’t easy to drop a bomb like this without warning. It’s hard to say whether Trumpworld should be more afraid of what we already know is in the footage or what other potentially devastating revelations could come later.
It seems that Trump had kept this little secret, an extensive straight-to-camera interview in which Holder had intimate access to Trump, his vice president, his family members, and his White House, pretty tight. There is little doubt in my mind that his advisers, being daily witnesses to Trump’s appalling lack of self-control and inability to communicate clearly, would have done everything possible to dissuade him from exposing himself like that. Especially since according to Holder, the agreement stipulated that Trump would have no control over the editing of the final product. The Trumps saw it as a harmless “puff, puff, puff piece”.
Alex Holder was as surprised as everyone else that his raw footage ended up as powerful evidence against a president in a historic moment. He was not, however, surprised at being subpoenaed by Congress, only that it wasn’t sooner. He has written that, “As a British filmmaker, I had no agenda coming into this”. He only ever “wanted to better understand who the Trumps were and what motivated them to hold onto power so desperately.”
Some like Ivanka, have been exposed as people who have contradicted themselves under different circumstances. In the footage we see her explaining that the President, her father, should “continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted,” and that “every single vote needs to be counted and needs to be heard, and he campaigned for the voiceless”. Even more explicitly implying that there had been irregularities in the election, she added, “I think a lot of Americans feel very, very disenfranchised right now, and really, question the sanctity of our elections, and that’s not right, it’s not acceptable.”
She wasn’t alone among the children to voice this view. According to Holder, all three, Don, Eric and Ivanka, “praised their father for waging a battle over the election in the December interviews. He added that, “They really echoed their father…you could tell they really admired their father.”
In the Congressional hearings, on the other hand, Ivanka stated, “I respected Attorney General Barr, and accepted what he was saying.” Yet according to the New Yorker, Ivanka Trump was so desperate to stop the attack on the Capitol on January 6, that she “begged Vladimir Putin to command her father to call off the attack…You’re the only he listens to”. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/ivanka-trump-reportedly-begged-putin-to-order-her-dad-to-stop-capitol-attack
In the interviews that came after January 6 the Trump family declined to talk about the topic at all, and when he brought up the subject, they repeatedly deflected it. In the course of the interviews, Holder himself had an epiphany. “I had the opinion prior to meeting him that he actually didn’t really believe that the election was rigged,” he said. In the end he had to revise that impression: “Absolutely not. He is absolutely convinced.”