WASHINGTON – Once he left the White House and was settled in Florida, former President Donald Trump told British filmmaker Alex Holder what the 2020 election taught him.
“I think I learned with the 2020 election, you have to be very untrusting,” Trump said.
His comments were part of the third and final episode in the “Unprecedented” documentary that premiered on Discovery+ early Sunday morning.
The former president took his fight from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, where he continued to make unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was “very unfair.”
The new documentary shows the former president said the election would begin to be rigged long before it, and he has held to those claims since being voted out of office. It’s one of many things that has been publicly reported before the documentary was released.
All of the Trump campaign’s claims of a fraudulent election were debunked, ruled against or tossed by more than 60 judges, including many conservative judges whom he appointed.
The three-episode documentary premiered on Discovery+ on Sunday, two days before the next Jan. 6 hearing is scheduled on Capitol Hill. That hearing is expected to show how the mob was assembled on the National Mall.
Through “Unprecedented,” Holder gained up-close access to Trump, his family and closest allies beginning in September 2020, throughout Jan. 6 and for months after Trump left office.
“Unprecedented” includes top Trump administration officials, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
Holder has said the Trump family had no control over what would be in the documentary.
“As a British filmmaker, I had no agenda coming into this,” he said on Twitter. “We simply wanted to better understand who the Trumps were and what motivated them to hold onto power so desperately.”
Here are some of the moments included in “Unprecedented”:
What Trump said after Jan. 6
Holder’s documentary provides “never-before-seen” footage of the former first family and how Trump reacted immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, he said in a statement last month.
Eleven hours of documentary footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, but Sunday marked the first time the footage – about three hours’ worth – was publicly released. Holder testified behind closed doors to the committee on June 23, and the committee is expected to incorporate Holder’s testimony and the film into an upcoming hearing.
One of the most anticipated parts of the documentary was what Trump and his children said on or after Jan. 6. But Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. all declined to be interviewed by Holder about Jan. 6 after violence broke out at the Capitol.
Pence also declined to talk to the documentary about Jan. 6, but the footage shows him smiling as he received an email calling on him and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. That moment was previously reported by CNN.
The former president said Jan. 6 was “a sad day” and minimized the crowd size at the Capitol – an unusual move for Trump, who has always boasted about the number of his supporters.
“Well it was a sad day, but it was a day where there was a great anger in our country,” Trump said in the third episode of the documentary. “People went to Washington primarily because they were angry with an election that they think was rigged. A very small portion, as you know, went down to the Capitol, and then a very small portion of them went in. But I will tell you they were angry from the standpoint of what happened in the election because they’re smart and they see and they saw what happened. And I believe that that was a big part of what happened on January 6th.”
Trump also responded on camera Jan. 8, 2021, when he was banned on Facebook and Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
“These people are thugs,” he said. “I’m not a horrific person. I have a big voice. I have a voice that had hundreds of millions of people listening. So it’s going to be adjudicated over a period of time. We’ll see how it turns out.”
Arizona was the turning point
One takeaway in the second episode is how the Arizona election shifted the strategy for the Trump family.
When Fox News called the presidential race for President Joe Biden, the documentary explained that Trump was furious as he watched the TV. He couldn’t believe that Fox News would call Arizona for the other side.
Calls were made to network owners, and messages were sent to anchor Bret Baier, as he was live on television.
The campaign started to float conspiracy theories, and Trump heard from his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he should just go out and claim victory.
“This is a fraud on the American republic. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said in a speech shortly in the wee hours of election night 2020.
The campaign’s strategy immediately following election night was to stop the count in places where Trump was ahead, such as Pennsylvania, and continue the count in places where he was behind, such as Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona.
Research continues:Trump WH counsel Cipollone meets with Jan. 6 panel
Running out of legal options
One of the biggest blows to the Trump campaign came when the Supreme Court blocked a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn the results of the state’s election, which Biden won by more than 80,000 votes. The decision effectively ended Trump’s legal path to challenge the election and remain in office.
Trump had nominated three justices who gave the court a conservative majority, but they did not go along with his efforts to stay in power.
“It’s a disgrace to our country,” Trump said in the third episode of “Unprecedented.” “The Supreme Court let a lot of people down. The Supreme Court didn’t have the guts to make the right decision. They know what the right decision was.”
In the days between the election he lost and Jan. 6, Trump was interviewed for the documentary multiple times. In each interview, I have perpetuated the false narrative that he won and Biden lost.
“It’s mathematically impossible for him to have won the election,” Trump said as his legal options dwindled.
“You still need a judge that has courage, and so far we haven’t found that judge,” he said in the documentary.
As Trump grew angry, he turned on members of his own party.
“This guy’s like a hard-headed rock,” Trump said of Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state who did not succumb to the president’s pressure to overturn the election.
“All I want to do is signature verification,” Trump said in another clip. “Signature verification and it’s a total win.”
Trump family’s political future
The documentary underscores what has been visible publicly – the Trump brand is still a force in the Republican Party and American politics.
Eric Trump said he can “assure politics is not over for this family,” though he personally is focused on spending more time with his children. Ivanka Trump said she is also enjoying more uninterrupted time with her children than her now that her time in the West Wing has ended.
“I think my father will probably continue to be the most pivotal force in Republican Party history,” Eric Trump said.
Donald Trump Jr. said he was flattered by calls for him to follow in his father’s footsteps and run for office, but he is not formally seeking an elected position. He will continue to raise issues he thinks other Republicans are too afraid to raise, he said.
Meanwhile, the former president has continued to lay the groundwork for a 2024 run and has amassed a deep war chest of campaign funds. But he has not formally announced.
When Trump was asked in the documentary about a 2024 run, he said, “We are all working together. We’re getting along incredibly well. We have a tremendous base. Every poll says I gotta run, I gotta run. But I’ ll be making a decision in the not-too-distant future, and stay tuned.”
Miss Day 6 of the Jan. 6 hearing?:Trump knew mob was armed and dangerous, bombshell witness says
Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism