Five takeaways from the Trump Jan. 6 documentary

The highly-anticipated documentary, featuring hours of behind-the-scenes video of former President Trump, his family and associates in recent days and after the 2020 election, has already been reviewed by the Congressional Committee of Inquiry into the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot.

Now it is open to the public.

“Unprecedented,” a three-part documentary by British filmmaker Alex Holder, was released by Discovery+ on Sunday morning and features new interviews with Trump and his children specific to January 6, as well as video of the President’s rally on the Ellipse just before his supporters stormed the Capitol. It offers a better definition of the events already etched into the nation’s consciousness and shows viewers that Trump is trying to overturn the results of the 2020 electionfor all the stealth of his allies’ stop-the-steal efforts, it was done openly—and began well before the morning of January 6th.

Here are five takeaways from the film:

Trump unsurprisingly sticks to the “big lie” and doesn’t apologize for January 6th

In the last 15 minutes of the third episode, “The Kindling,” Holder asks Trump to talk about the events of January 6 during an interview conducted before he left the White House. Trump agreed and nodded gruffly. But his comments showed little remorse for the violence of the uprising, beyond calling it “a sad day.” Almost immediately, Trump again began making excuses for those who stormed the Capitol, explaining away their behavior while ignoring his own role in encouraging them.

“People went to Washington mainly because they were angry about an election that they believe was rigged,” he said.

The clip comes just minutes after the video showing Trump’s constant espousal of the lie that incited the Stop the Steal mob: On his election night, he claims, “Honestly, we won this election”; the parroting of this claim by Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, his children, attorneys and allies in conservative media; Donald Trump Jr.’s emphatic assertion to a crowd that his father would fight to overthrow the election “to the death”; and Trump’s Jan. 6 speech, in which he implored supporters to march to the Capitol and urged Vice President Mike Pence to “do the right thing” and stop confirming the election victory of then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“As you know, a very small portion went down to the Capitol and then a very small portion of them went in,” Trump continued in the documentary, moments after the video, which shows thousands of his supporters smashing windows, with police fight and occupy the Capitol main building. “But I’m telling you, they were angry at what happened in the election and because they’re smart and they see and see what happened. And I think that was a big part of what happened on January 6th.”

In what appeared to be a later interview at Trump’s apartment, Holder asked him what he learned from the 2020 election.

“I think I learned that you have to be very suspicious,” he said. “I thought it would be a direct election and it wasn’t.”

Trump’s children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric didn’t want to talk about January 6th

Because Holder’s documentary focused heavily on which of Trump’s three oldest children is best equipped to inherit his political crown, sons Donald Jr. and Eric and daughter Ivanka — who are described as the siblings’ “darling” — consistently had nothing but praise for her father The film. But none of the president’s descendants raised their voices in defense of what happened on Jan. 6.

In an interview with Holder sometime between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, Ivanka Trump claimed that her father was only interested in counting all the votes in the 2020 election — though, as another commenter on the documentary points out, Trump’s attorneys were working actually working to stop counting the votes in the states where his lead had diminished as more ballots were processed.

“As the President said, every single vote needs to be counted and heard. And he stood up for the voiceless,” she said.

But in interviews after the Capitol riot, none of the Trump children who took part in the film had anything to say about it.

“Let’s skip the 6th,” Eric Trump said.

Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. seemed to have said even less — Holder included text over video of their interviews, explaining that they also declined to discuss that day’s events.

Even Pence, who has since tiptoed away from Trump to launch his own potential 2024 presidential bid, chose not to speak about the riot threatening his own safety as rioters chanted that they wanted to hang him because he refused to submit to the president’s pressure campaign.

Trump’s devoted base will not break from him

Capturing spontaneous moments from Trump’s campaign appearances, the documentary preserves the former president and his children’s seemingly unbreakable bond with his supporters for the annals of history.

In one scene, an elderly man chokes while telling former presidential daughter Tiffany Trump that he loves her father because of his family values. In another scene, a woman, who showed up hours early for one of Trump’s final rallies in 2020, says she “can’t find a boyfriend because I love him so much,” and refers to Biden as “Joe Bin Laden… because he a terrorist.” And a Georgia pizza restaurant owner said he was blown away to meet Ivanka Trump, who stopped by during the 2020 campaign: “I felt like I was meeting a princess.”

The snaps, spread across the three episodes, serve as a reminder that despite the revelations about the President’s efforts to overthrow the election and his actions during the violent uprising in the Capitol, given the emotional investment, it may all be next to impossible Cracking Trump’s political base of supporters in his American-great message.

Like everything Trump, it’s in the eye of the beholder

Had the events of January 6, 2021 not happened, the documentary might have become like a Trump production, given the abundance of praising comments from the President’s children and scenes of rallies and events where Trump and his deputies were warmly welcomed . Holder leaves others to correct the records and offer opinions, with the counter-narrative coming from the same source she did during Trump’s four-year tenure: Washington journalists, Trump biographers, and political observers whose comments offer a reality check and explanations for the actions of the President.

The film’s dramatic soundtrack and cinematic imagery convey a grandeur appropriate to either the former President and his family or the seriousness of his ignominious place in American history, depending on one’s perspective. Trump’s most fervent supporters might enjoy the trip down memory lane and the anecdotes from the President’s children. At the same time, Trump’s critics could interpret Holder’s soaring score and depiction of his subjects as dynastic quasi-royalty as an indication that the filmmaker is joking.

It’s also possible that the soft focus on the Trump family throughout the documentary was Holder’s effort to keep his pro-Trump viewers long enough to watch the final scenes of the series, which depict the chaos and violence of the former president display, record and perhaps reconsider brought to fruition on January 6th.

But for the new January 6th-themed interviews and riot scenes, the majority of the three episodes offer a brilliant treatment of old-fashioned Trump storylines and issues: the former president’s lifelong obsession with images; the unusual dynamic of his three children constantly vying for his attention and affection; his deep-seated fear of losing and need to explain away setbacks with claims that situations were rigged against him; and his ability to convince others of his self-serving narratives.

Presented as a prelude to the events of January 6th, the documentary shows that the violence that day was almost inevitable, the self-fulfilling prophecy of a provocateur who always put his own interests first and did everything to protect his image to protect.

Will any of this help the January 6th committee?

While Holder’s film could be a boon to Discovery+, given the enduring fascination with Trump, the reverence and outrage he inspires, and the historical significance of the events it portrays, the January 6 House Select Committee documentaries could ultimately see its progress of less importance would be hearings on the insurrection in the Capitol.

Holder includes numerous scenes — seen in the documentary trailer leaked to Politico’s Playbook newsletter a few weeks ago — of Trump and his children asking how they looked on camera before their interviews began. There’s Ivanka with a stylist brushing her long blonde hair. There’s the President directing an aide to remove a small table and water glass by his side, then telling him to bring it back. Perhaps these moments of awareness and fluff tell us something relevant about the artificiality at the heart of Trumpism, but it is little news to those who have covered the Trump presidency.

It’s unclear if or how the few January 6-related scenes included in the third installment of the docuseries will provide new revelations to the committee investigating the riot. In the nearly three hours of the series, there hasn’t been a bomb, consistent with what former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said Trump demanded on Jan. 6 to remove magnetometers from his gathering spot on the ellipse to allow more armed supporters inside would – revealed that he was aware of the potential for violence and that if he incited the crowd it would not be directed against him. Holder’s cameras were present at this rally but did not capture this critical backstage conversation.

But the documentary could still shape people’s perceptions of the day. Holder’s film could serve as a companion video to the Jan. 6 hearings on Capitol Hill and provide further evidence of what is already clear. Five takeaways from the Trump Jan. 6 documentary

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