Documentary filmmaker emerges as potentially key US Capitol riot witness

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) – Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker who had extensive access to former US president Donald Trump and his family before and after the 2020 election, has emerged late in the House’s investigation of the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a new and potentially important witness.

Holder testified behind closed doors on Thursday morning (June 23) before the House committee investigating Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the election he lost.

His deposition took place before a separate public hearing by the committee on Thursday about Trump’s effort to install a loyalist to run the Justice Department in the closing weeks of his administration.

Holder’s footage – some 11 hours of it with the Trump family discussing the campaign and the election for a planned documentary titled Unprecedented – was subpoenaed by the committee before the interview.

In an interview with The New York Times after his testimony, Holder said the committee’s investigators asked very specific questions about his footage and his experience with the Trump family. But he declined to provide a detailed account of what the committee’s questions had focused on.

Holder said he went into his interviews with Trump believing that the president could not actually believe what he was saying about the election but ended up being persuaded otherwise.

“After that interview, I remember being struck by how wrong I was,” he said. “He 100 per cent believed the election was taken from him.”

He declined to say what Trump revealed about his thinking about the attack on the Capitol by his supporters. But in a video clip shared with The Washington Post, and confirmed by a person with access to it, Trump said his supporters that day “were angry from the standpoint of what happened in the election because they’re smart, and they see. And they saw what happened. I believe that that was a big part of what happened on Jan 6.”

One person close to the Trump family said that they had believed they would have some editorial control over the project, which Holder denied.

Holder interviewed Trump’s oldest children; his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner; vice-president Mike Pence; and a few others for the project. One person familiar with the interviews said Pence’s team was approached by Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, about participating.

Holder said later through a spokesman that no Trump family member or representative was paid for the footage.

It is unclear how they are portrayed. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, sat with the filmmaker three weeks before Election Day, but he turned down a request for another interview after the election, a person familiar with the filming said.

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