The Donald Trump docuseries “Unprecedented” sheds new light on the Trump 2020 campaign and relationships in the family as well as the Jan. 6 insurrection – but didn’t provide bombshells about the Jan. 6 insurrection beyond what was revealed in Congressional hearings.
But the docuseries did reveal where Trump family members stand in the power hierarchy of the family (Don Jr comes out on top), and how Trump continued to choose aggressive approaches even when offered a chance to pivot.
In June, Holder’s footage was subpoenaed by the House panel investigating Jan. 6, which had unusual access to Trump and his coterie of advisors, children and top officials.
Clips that previously made it to the committee include Trump calling Jan. 6 “a sad day.” “People went to Washington primarily because they were angry with an election they think was rigged,” he said in the footage.
In another subpeonaed video, former Vice President Mike Pence receives an email detailing a draft resolution from Congress asking that he remove Trump from office through the 25th Amendment. After reading the email on his phone he says, “excellent” and asks a staff member to “print me off a hard copy for the trip home.”
Aside from these interviews, Holder’s docuseries does not reveal wildly new information, instead providing insights into the Trump family and campaign alongside expert analysis of the journey from fall 2019 to the Jan 6. insurrection.
The three-episode Alex Holder documentary was made available to the public Sunday morning on Discovery+. Check out seven of our biggest takeaways from the docuseries.
1. The Trump children were integral as an extension of the Trump brand during the 2020 campaign
In its first episode, titled “The Roar,” the documentary shed light on strategies using Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. to appeal to various parts of Trump’s fanbase during the 2020 campaign.
While Ivanka represented class alongside her elite connections, with fans even calling her a “princess,” Eric stood as a key part of the campaign’s stance on economics while Don Jr. appealed to followers who adored shooting, the outdoors and conspiracy theories.
“Part of Trump, the brand, is the multi-generational family,” said The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher. “And so his children were brought up from the very beginning to be a living representation of that model. They were groomed to be that way, and they naturally took it upon themselves to be that way to win their father’s attention and love.”
2. Trump’s airlift to Walter Reed Memorial Hospital kickstarted “Operation MAGA”
Following Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis and his helicopter airlift to Walter Reed Memorial Hospital, the 2020 campaign launched Operation MAGA, which brought even more Trump family on board, including Lara Trump (Eric Trump’s wife) and Tiffany Trump.
The outpouring of family support was aimed to offset concerns about Trump’s health as he recovered from coronavirus.
“This is a president obsessed with optics and with image,” said The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, “And if he did not absolutely need to be airlifted to the hospital, he never would have permitted those helicopters to take him to the hospital because its the ultimate show of weakness.”
3. Donald Trump Jr.’s rebellion from his father made him a valuable asset in the Trump campaign
As Trump Jr. rebelled against his father, he took on “a persona and interests that violated core definitions of Trumpism,” says Fisher. “Trump loves golf, Don stayed away from golf and took up hunting,” said The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins, with Fisher adding that Trump thought “the whole gun thing” was for “losers.”
This rebellion, however, appealed to a large sect of Trump supporters who shared Trump Jr.’s love for shooting and the outdoors.
“What’s ironic is that what made Don Jr. such a valuable asset on the campaign trail is actually what embarrassed Donald Trump about him for most of his life,” said Coppins.
4. Trump’s positive COVID diagnosis was an opportunity to shift views on the pandemic — that he did not take
According to The New York Times‘ Peter Baker, Trump’s advisors thought that the former President’s COVID diagnosis and recovery could be used as a “pivot to reposition himself on the pandemic.”
“But he wouldn’t do it,” Baker continued. “Rather than pivoting toward a softer, more empathetic President, he came out guns blazing, and into a much more Trumpian, Gatling gun approach to the campaign.”
5. Trump thinks he should be allowed on Twitter, Facebook
After Trump was banned on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, the former President called the social media leaders “thugs” and insisted he should be allowed to share messages on the platforms.
“It’s a shame what Twitter did, and what Facebook did,” Trump says. “That’s what they do. These people are thugs. They allow other people to be on who are horrific people. I’m not a horrific person. I have a big voice. I have a voice that had hundreds of millions of people listening.”
6. January 6 was a “revolutionary act”
Experts interviewed in “Unprecedented” analyze the language and memory of January 6, 2021, and call the day a “revolutionary act.”
“The terminology around January 6 has been sort of watered down over time, talking about it as a riot or as an insurrection,” said Fisher, “And those are perfectly good words, they capture a piece of it. But they don’t capture the extent to which this was a revolutionary act or an act of treason.”
“It was an extreme thing that happened,” said Tess Owens, who reports on extremism for Vice News. However, Owens believes that the way that the emotional energy of the crowd and of many “normal Trump supporters” was harnessed into violence is worthy of further discussion.
7. Donald Trump Jr. would be the most well-suited heir — if Trump decides to give up the crown
As the Trump dynasty looks ahead to 2024 and beyond, Donald Trump Jr. arises as the child most likely to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“[Ivanka is] polished, she has elite connections. She’s still the one who has her father’s approval,” said Coppins. “But it’s Don who has the connection to Trump’s political base, who has the inside track at this point.”
When asked if there was a potential chance that he would run for president, Trump Jr. replied by saying, “I have no plans about it. I’ll stay involved in politics. I don’t know if I want to run as a candidate.”
However, despite this newfound respect for his son’s loyalty, Fisher reminds audiences that “Trump, the brand, is about Donald Trump. And there’s no way on Earth that he would step aside to allow one of them to take center stage.”
As for Trump’s plans for 2024, he noted his “tremendous base,” saying, “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.”