OWhen the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack deposed British filmmaker Alex Holder, it heard from a first-hand witness who inadvertently observed some of the darkest and most politically charged days of the term of Donald Trump.
The new witness, who emerged late in the Congressional investigation into the Capitol attack, had extensive personal access to Donald Trump and his family as the administration imploded in the 2020 post-election period after the former president’s defeat to Joe Biden.
Holder was there for it all: three interviews with Trump, including one at the White House, numerous other interviews with Trump’s adult children, private conversations between top aides and advisers before the election, and around the Capitol itself then. that he was attacked.
The second filmmaker to co-operate with the panel – the first, Nick Quested, was embedded with the far-right group Proud Boys – indeed had a front-row seat to peer into the former president’s mind at critical moments in his endeavors. to retain the presidency.
Access to Trump and listening to him and those around him led him to suspect that the former president’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election would somehow culminate in an event on Capitol Hill. on January 6, Holder said in an interview with the Guardian.
“I wasn’t 100% sure, but it was kind of a feeling, so we prepared for it to happen,” Holder said. “The reason we thought Jan. 6 was because, in Trump’s mind, the last ditch effort was to stop the process” of Biden’s certification.
“This ceremonial process that takes place in Congress on January 6, he felt, was the last time he could, in his mind, prevent the election from going to the wrong person, so to speak. The rhetoric coming out was that the election was rigged, [that] we have to fight.
Holder testified for about four hours behind closed doors last week about his roughly 100 hours of footage, used for an upcoming documentary titled Unprecedented, and gave House investigators the exhibits requested in a subpoena compelling his cooperation.
The select committee was broadly interested in his recollections of the build-up to the Capitol attack, as well as his interactions with Trump and his family, Holder said, though he declined to discuss any specific questions or issues. .
The Guardian previously reported, however, that the panel focused on phone calls between adult Trump children – including Don Jr and Eric – whom Holder filmed at a September 29, 2020 campaign event at the Trump International Hotel that he had crushed.
The select committee is focusing on footage from the event — in addition to content from one-on-one interviews with Trump and Ivanka — as the strategy discussions reflect similar conversations at the time by top Trump advisers.
What seems to interest the panel is whether Trump and his children had somehow planned to stop certification of the Jan. 6 election — a potential violation of federal law — and force a contingent election if Trump loses in September.
The event on the day of the first presidential debate at the Trump Hotel, which Holder gained access to through Eric Trump, was unplanned and reflected, according to Holder, his approach of filming whatever he could, just in case. would prove significant later.
Holder said he took part in the one-on-one interviews with Trump and his children with a deliberately deferential approach and open-ended questions to ensure the exchanges didn’t come across as confrontational — including over whether Trump lost. the 2020 elections.
“If I start pushing a guy that I know won’t change his position, and then he throws you out of the room, then it’s all over,” Holder said. “I don’t need to argue and debate him as we contextualize his position with journalist interviews.”
“And also this Englishman from North London is not going to change Donald Trump’s mind about the election. Then we would have just wasted our whole hour together while I try to persuade him that I’m right and that he is wrong,” added Holder.
The select committee was also interested in Ivanka Trump’s talks with Holder, according to a source familiar with the matter, because although she testified before the panel that she accepted that Trump lost the election, at the time, she had told Holder the opposite.
Holder said he wasn’t sure if it amounted to Ivanka Trump changing her belief about the 2020 election outcome between her three interviews with him, but said he was surprised she actually testified before the select committee that his father was wrong.
“It was surprising because the three children, at least with me, would always echo their father’s positions and support them,” he said.
The documentary largely features a portrait of Trump and his family that follows them through the tumultuous 2020 presidential campaign, when the children acted as campaign surrogates, the final months of the administration, and then months after the attack on the Capitol.
Holder said he interviewed Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, before the 2020 election, then went to the White House the first weekend of December 2020 to interview the former president. as well as Ivanka for the second time.
He said he did a second interview with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida a few months after the attack on the Capitol, and then for a third interview with Trump at his Bedminster golf club a few months later. He also interviewed Ivanka and Eric again after the events of January 6.
The documentary also features raw footage of the attack on the Capitol recorded by Holder’s cinematographer, Michael Crommett, who filmed in the tunnel of the inaugural platform on the west side of the Capitol as the pro-Trump crowd tried in vain to cross this door.
Holder said he also did a one-on-one interview with then-Vice President Mike Pence, including a scene where Pence briefly reviews an email about the 25th Amendment — which is about impeachment of an American president – which was discussed privately between senior white officials. House officials following the attack on the Capitol.