Several of Donald Trump’s closest allies sat down for interviews with a British filmmaker during his final weeks as president after being assured they had editorial input on the final product, according to two people familiar with the situation, a claim that the filmmaker’s team has denied.
Several people said they were told the documentary focused on Trump’s legacy and would be a flattering portrayal.
But 17 months later, that filmmaker, Alex Holder, was subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol uprising, and turned over hours of his footage. It made some in the former president’s orbit nervous, they told CNN, mostly because several can’t remember the full extent of their comments.
A lawyer for Holder denies that the Trumps obtained editorial control of the final product.
“The Trumps neither requested nor were granted any editorial control over the series. On the contrary, Alex Holder stated from the outset that he would have full editorial control. Nor did the Trumps request any contractual right control, or even review, so there is none,” Russell Smith said in a statement provided to CNN.
Holder’s “Unprecedented” three-part docuseries about the 2020 election will be released on Discovery Plus, which is owned by parent company CNN, later this summer. The documentary includes never-before-seen footage of the Trump family on the campaign trail and their reactions to the election results.
The then president’s children sat down for multiple interviews with the British filmmaker, who was there in the final weeks of Trump’s term. Ivanka Trump has done three interviews, her husband, Jared Kushner, has been interviewed twice, and Eric Trump has been interviewed twice, Holder told CNN. Donald Trump Jr. was interviewed once for an hour, but an attempted second interview with him was unsuccessful.
Several of the interviews, including with Ivanka Trump, were conducted after Trump lost the election, but while he was still contesting it. Most of Ivanka Trump’s interview focused on her relationship with her father, in addition to a public commentary on the ongoing legal challenges over the election. Trump Jr. sat down with Holder about three weeks before the election, another source said.
Now some VIPs are worried about what was said on camera, given that hours of footage has been flipped. A former aide downplayed the likelihood that anything relevant to the committee was said.
A person familiar with the matter said the talks were orchestrated by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East peace envoy who left the administration in 2019 but remained in close contact with senior officials. Greenblatt did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Holder sat for a deposition with the committee Thursday morning behind closed doors.