British filmmaker Alex Holder told CBS News in an interview on Thursday night that President Donald Trump saw the violence of January 6 as an “inevitablity” and was “jovial” in the hours following the Capitol riot.
Mr Holder, whose documentary footage was reviewed by the Jan 6 committee, testified today behind closed doors about what he saw while following Mr Trump and his inner circle during the months leading up to and following the 2020 election.
Following his testimony and the public release of select footage from his upcoming three-part documentary series set to premiere on Discovery+ later this summer, Mr Holder spoke to CBS News — telling host Norah O’Donnell that he predicted the violence of January 6.
“The volume of rhetoric and sort of the belligerence that was coming out post the election was so significant that, in my mind, it eventually had to end with something violent,” Mr Holder said. “Even if you look at the way the campaign was going on before, the idea of the election being something that was going to be irregular was already coming up during that time as well. So to me, January 6 doesn’t happen by itself.”
The surprise, Mr Holder said, is that the events of January 6 weren’t worse.
“If you’re telling 75 million people that their election doesn’t count, and they believe you, you’re their president and they voted for you, and you’re saying their election doesn’t count, then what else is going to happen?” Mr Holder said.
The Capitol riot, of course, was very nearly worse. The January 6 committee has heard testimony over the last several weeks about the extent of the multifaceted plot to overturn the legitimate result of the 2020 election and keep Mr Trump in power — a plot that intense pressure on elections officials and the takeover of government buildings.
Supporters of Mr Trump threatened violence against a number of elected officials, including Vice President Mike Pence. This apparently didn’t trouble Mr Trump. Mr Holder said that Mr Trump felt that the people who stormed the Captiol on January 6 “were doing what he thought was to be correct.”
Mr Holder was granted significant access to the president and recorded interviews with Mr Pence, Mr Trump, and other figures like the former president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, though he has said that the Trumps did not have any editorial control over the production of the docuseries.
Mr Holder told Ms O’Donnell that he believes his interviews with Mr Trump will contain important revelations as the nation grapples with the unprecedented situation of a sitting president apparently trying to orchestrate a coup against the government.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that while Mr Holder initally believed that Mr Trump was being insincere about his claims that the election was illegitimately stolen from him, he changed his mind after sitting down with the president.
“After that interview, I remember being struck by how wrong I was,” Mr Holder told theTimes. “He 100 percent believed the election was taken from him.”
Mr Holder said that he was interviewing Mr Pence when the Vice President recieved an email about regarding the possibility of his being called on to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare Mr Trump unfit to serve, though an aide to Mr Pence said Thursday that the moment is not portrayed clearly or accurately and that the released footage shows Mr Pence reacting to his own letter in response to a request by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he invoke the amendment.
Mr Holder, who is British, was connected to the former president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner through longtime Trump associate Jason Greenblatt.