Democracy on Trial (full documentary) | FRONTLINE
FRONTLINE investigates the roots of the federal criminal case against former President Donald Trump stemming from his 2020 election loss.
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In March, 2024 Republican presidential nomination front-runner Trump is scheduled to begin standing trial on federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S., in connection with efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss. He says the charges against him are politically motivated.
“Democracy on Trial” traces the road to this unprecedented moment, and examines the implications of the historic criminal case unfolding in the midst of a presidential election year. Drawing on court documents and revelatory interviews with elected officials, former government lawyers, House Select Committee witnesses and former committee staffers, authors and journalists, the documentary reports that the work of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack provided the groundwork for special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump and may offer insights into how the trial unfolds.
The documentary chronicles how the committee built its case against Trump and tried to prove his intent, how it chose to present its case to the American public, and criticisms of its work. Key witnesses who testified before the committee and whose firsthand accounts are now evidence in the federal case speak out in the documentary — including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling and former Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers.
Gripping and illuminating, “Democracy on Trial,” the newest film from FRONTLINE’s award-winning political team, Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser and Vanessa Fica, also examines how Trump has challenged the case. Trump has pleaded not guilty and made the legal argument, now being reviewed by an appellate court, that he has “absolute immunity” from prosecution for his actions while in office.
“Democracy on Trial” is a FRONTLINE production with the Kirk Documentary Group. The director is Michael Kirk. The producers are Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser and Vanessa Fica. The writers are Michael Kirk and Mike Wiser. The reporters are Vanessa Fica and Brooke Nelson Alexander. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional support for FRONTLINE is provided by the Abrams Foundation, Park Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund, with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen. Additional support for this program is provided by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.
00:00 - Prologue
00:43 - Donald Trump, the First Former U.S. President Charged With Crimes in Office
05:10 - How the House Jan. 6 Committee Was Formed
26:14 - What Did Former President Trump Know About the 2020 Election Results and When Did He Know It?
44:06 - A Georgia Election Official’s Warning to Trump About Potential for Violence
51:17 - Arizona Lawmaker Rusty Bowers Recalls Call With Trump: ‘You’re Asking Me to Break My Oath’
1:03:02 - Poll Workers Caught in an Election Fraud Conspiracy Theory
1:16:37 - Brad Raffensperger Describes His Georgia Election Phone Call With Trump
1:24:21- Trump’s Call for a “Big Protest” in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021
1:34:23 - The Pressure on Trump’s Justice Department in the 2020 Election’s Aftermath
1:42:10 - President Trump, Vice President Pence and the Jan. 6 Election Certification
1:54:04 - Trump White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson Testifies Before the Jan. 6 Committee
2:05:21 - House Select Committee Examines What President Trump Did for 187 Minutes on Jan. 6
2:17:55 - Former President Donald Trump’s Looming Trial
2:21:58 - Credits