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Trump praised participants on January 6 as ‘smart’, says the filmmaker

Written by Javed Iqbal

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Former President Donald Trump called those who participated in the demonstrations and the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, “wise” during a defiant interview last spring, according to a documentary filmmaker who gained extensive access to Trump and his family and is now collaborating. with the House committee investigating the uprising.

“A very small part, as you know, went down to the Capitol, and then a very small part of them went in. But I want to tell you, they were angry from the point of view of what happened at the election because they are smart, “And they saw what happened. I think that was a big part of what happened on January 6,” he told British filmmaker Alex Holder in a March interview, according to a film clip. , reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump said it was a “sad day,” but did not offer a rejection of the events, according to footage reviewed by The Post and to the filmmaker.

Holder met with the committee’s investigators on Jan. 6 in a closed-door meeting Thursday and provided more than 10 hours of footage to the panel of interviews with Trump, his adult children, former Vice President Mike Pence and footage of the Capitol attack itself. Holder said he was surprised he had not been called before, but received a subpoena last week from the committee.

Holder was interviewed for about two hours, but declined to specify what committee staff asked him “out of respect for an ongoing investigation,” his spokeswoman said.

Holder said he interviewed Trump three times in December 2020, March 2021 and May 2021 for the documentary, called “The Unfortunate” and is expected to be released this summer. The film has been purchased by Discovery Plus, a company representative said.

The film was meant to describe Trump’s re-election campaign and his relationship with his adult children, he said. Holder said he was not present at any of the events scheduled for Jan. 6 and had no private information about their ancestry.

In his December 45-minute interview in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, the filmmaker said Trump was in a bad mood and was obsessed with the 2020 election, looking for ways to stay in office and talking about how he was to pressure Georgia’s officials and the Supreme Court. “He had barricaded himself in the White House,” he said. “He did not speak to the press or do anything. … He said we need to get some good judges who can help us.”

The documentary filmmaker said that Trump never admitted that he lost the election – and repeated his same allegations of fraud and protests that he won the election privately, as he did in public. Trump also did not raise the date of Jan. 6 with him in his first meeting, nor did the president’s children and Pence ever mention the date before the attack, he said.

In March at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in South Florida, Holder said Trump was defiant and did not accept any responsibility for Jan. 6 and remained obsessed with the election, even moving the discussion away from softer issues about his family. He spoke in detail about his audience that day and boasted that it was the largest audience he had ever attracted.

“I would take up other topics like his kids and he would talk about it, but he would always come back to the election,” Holder said.

A spokesman for Trump did not comment.

Holder said Trump’s children praised their father for campaigning in the December interviews. “They really repeated their father,” he said. “One could feel that they really admired their father.”

After Jan. 6, he said the Trump family refused to talk about the topic at all, and so did Pence, who sat for an interview with the documentary a few days after Jan. 6. “And we’ll make that clear in the film,” he said. A person familiar with the project said it was not a project on January 6, but instead about the Trump family and Trump as a father.

Holder said he was present when Pence received an email about the 25th Amendment to the Constitution – which sets out procedures for removing a president from office – but he declined to describe Pence’s reaction.

“He did not seem angry,” Holder said. “People around him were nervous. He told us he was not as good a golfer as Trump. He seemed optimistic about America’s future.”

Holder said he thought the committee would be interested in the six-hour footage he shot on Jan. 6 when he was not in the White House, but along with the troublemakers on Capitol Hill. He was not with Trump or Pence that day, he said.

Holder said the family wanted to participate in the documentary as an “inheritance project,” and that he chatted with family members before the election, but with Trump only after the election. He had gotten to know family members, Holder said, through a project he was shooting in the Middle East. A person familiar with the matter said he was introduced to the Trump family by Jason Greenblatt, a Middle East envoy in the Trump administration.

“They all thought they would win,” he said.

He gained access to Air Force One, the White House and campaign events, he said, and some in his crew were at times closer to Trump “than his own Secret Service agents.”

Several campaign leaders said they had no idea Holder was filming a documentary. “I think there was no doubt that the family kept us away from the campaign. We had some interaction with them, but not much,” he said.

The documentary filmmaker said that Trump never privately admitted that he had lost. “I had the perception before I met him that he actually did not really believe the election was manipulated,” he said. “Absolutely not. He is completely convinced.”

He also said that the filmmaker in the last interview was finally able to get Trump to talk about his children and topics other than the election. Trump scolded in addition to being fired from social media.

“I showed him on my iPad a clip of his kids campaigning for him – it was a really interesting moment. He said, ‘They all have their own base, but it’s really part of my base,'” Holder said. “There were elements of him being proud of his children.”

He said Trump also expressed a surprising amount of honesty about his coronavirus diagnosis. “He expressed that he was afraid of covid, and how he was sick, and how he had friends who died,” Holder said.

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Javed Iqbal

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