New January 6 Witness: Trump Had Mystery Conversation With Putin

Ryan Lizza: Have you considered opposing the subpoena because, as a journalist… Look, I have an interview with Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago dated after January 6 that has not been published. And if the January 6 committee came to ask that, I would have a lot of questions, and I think our lawyers at POLITICO would have too. Numerous books have been written about Donald Trump with transcripts and audio recordings of interviews not turned over to that committee. For example, the commission didn’t subpoena Bob Costa and Bob Woodward, did it? Or Susan [Glasser] and Peter [Baker] for their book or any of the other journalists who have these lengthy interviews with the president and his family. Has it given you any First Amendment or journalistic level of concern of “Hold on. I’m not sure if I should drop this stuff off”?

Alex Holder: As for my position, I think the idea that we wouldn’t want to comply with one of the greatest political investigations of all time would have created quite a few complications as to what the series is and what the project was. I mean, for me, the events of January 6, what this research is really about, was that it was a terrible day for America. Obviously we were there that day and people died and were injured. And it’s something that, of course, should never happen again.

There’s a kind of responsibility and a sense of… The idea of ​​saying no, in that context, kind of made me feel uneasy, especially because I’m not American and the access we had was unique. And so there was a kind of perspective that — and I’m not even sure we would have been particularly successful at even resisting that — and to me the idea of ​​resisting it just didn’t make sense.

lisa: So it sounds like you kind of felt like it was your duty to help the committee put together the most comprehensive file they could? And you had something that might fill up some of the bits, so you’d have to flip it?

Holder: Yes. It’s like saying the series is coming out and then there’s an investigation going on. For example, would I blame an investigation for using a completed and publicly released documentary for that investigation? No. Ultimately, they have the power to ask for it. We have complied with this.

lisa: I think I read somewhere that one of the things that weighed on you was that you saw some contradictions between what was said to the committee and what you recorded.

Holder: I’m not a lawyer, though. And I’m not a politician. I am only documenting the facts and the history. In Ivanka’s interview with me, it was not at all surprising when she said that the family has always been very supportive of their father, at least in my interactions with them. They love him very much. They admire him. Eric Trump calls his father his best friend. And so the idea that Ivanka would sort of echo some of her father’s thoughts wasn’t surprising at all. When she testified to the investigation, there was a difference in what she said to me and it is up to others to determine whether there was a difference, whether that difference is material. But, it is what it is.

lisa: This was when she was talking about Bill Barr saying that the fraud allegations were all bullshit and that weighed on her for respecting Barr? That’s what she told the committee.

Holder: I think it was in regards to whether she accepted Bill Barr’s statement to the AP where he said the Justice Department had concluded there was no electoral fraud. She said she had accepted the position.

lisa: Because she respected him. Right. Since AP was not his testimony, he told the press in December.

Holder: Precisely. Precisely. And what Ivanka said to me during the interview was different in that, it seems.

lisa: Just tell us what she told you in general, that seems to contradict what she said to the committee.

Holder: Well, she effectively echoed her father’s stance on the election, which was clearly not what Bill Barr told AP.

lisa: What’s the most surprising thing you learned making this film that you didn’t understand about Trump and his family before starting the project? The thing that shattered your expectations about them?

Holder: I think one of the things that was surprising was that they’re very real in a sense they didn’t want to show. So for some reason they didn’t want to show that they’re really real people and they kind of have fears and worries and they like people and they don’t like people and they kind of have interesting relationships with each other . They have stories and anecdotes and all kinds of different things that they never really came out with in the days when they were – well, I say ‘them’, but their father was – in power. I wonder if that was on purpose or… I mean, I don’t know. But I think I’ve learned that there’s something underneath that hasn’t been really well explored yet. And I think that was quite unique.

lisa: It sounds like you’re describing it — and this can sometimes get journalists covering Trump and his family in trouble with a certain segment of our highly polarized electorate — but it sounds like a sympathetic rendering. Sounds like you’re humanizing them in a way you’ve never seen before, if I’m reading it right. I don’t mean that as a criticism at all.

Holder: No, no, not at all. I mean, when people say, “I humanized them,” I don’t think I did anything. I think it’s a fact.

lisa: Well, they’re people.

Holder: Precisely. Precisely. They are people. So that’s what I think we’re capturing. We show that they are people. And that doesn’t imply some kind of feeling of… What was the word you used earlier? A sense of forgiveness or…

lisa: You know, sympathetic rendering.

Holder: Precisely. I think the portrayal is an authentic portrayal, a portrayal where you see them as who they really are. They gave as much as they wanted to give.

lisa: To you.

Holder: To me. And we put in as much as we could to show that. I will give an example. A scene in the first episode of the series, I ask Ivanka what her first memory of her father is. She thinks about it a bit and says he sang to her when she was a kid and nobody knew about it until her mom caught him on the baby monitor. In the episode I show that clip of Ivanka saying that to her father and we see his reaction to that particular message. And it’s a very interesting moment. It’s a moment when he shows… I don’t want to ruin it because he says something really funny and shows a humor that I had never seen before. You also see a sense of pride in his kids when I show him other clips of what we captured over the course of the project as well. So you get to see a side of him that I think is normally quite hidden.

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