“TRUMP’S SHOWDOWN”

Frontline takes us inside President Trump’s fight against Robert Mueller, the FBI, and even his own attorney general, as the investigation into the 2016 election and post-presidency obstruction of justice continues.

Watch the full documentary here. 

Aired on October 2, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

I THINK THAT WE'RE BEING HURT VERY BADLY BY THE, I WOULD CALL IT THE WITCH-HUNT.

> RUDY KNOW KNOWS IT'S THE WITCH-HUNT.

> WE'VE HAD A PHONY WITCH-HUNT DEAL.

> AND I HAVE THIS WITCH-HUNT CONSTANTLY GOING ON FOR OVER 12 MONTHS NOW.

PRESIDENT TRUMP AND THE ONGOING PROBE THAT COULD ULTIMATELY THREATEN HIS PRESIDENCY SINCE TAKING OFFICE, DONALD TRUMP HAS BEEN LOCKED IN AN UNPRECEDENTED CONFRONTATION WITH SPECIAL COUNSEL ROBERT MUELLER OVER HIS INVESTIGATION INTO RUSSIA'S MEDDLING IN THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN AND HIS POSSIBLE OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.

NOW A 'FRONTLINE' DOCUMENTARY TITLED TRUMP SHOWDOWN GOES INSIDE THAT FIGHT.

TAKE A LOOK.

DONALD TRUMP SAYS, CAN I EXPECT LOYALTY FROM YOU?

COMEY SEES DANGER.

PRESIDENT TRUMP --

THE CALL FOR A SPECIAL COUNSEL JUST GETS LOUDER.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT APPOINTED A SPECIAL COUNSEL.

BOB MUELLER CARES ABOUT ONE THING, INDICTING BAD GUYS AND PUTTING THEM IN PRISON.

THE PRESIDENT IS TRYING TO CONTROL THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S INVESTIGATION INTO HIM.

PHONY RUSSIA WITCH-HUNT.

THAT'S EXTRAORDINARY.

HERE TO TELL US MORE IS PRODUCER AND 'FRONTLINE' REPORTER GABRIELLE SHANDER.

HE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

THIS IS LIKE A RECAPPING, IF YOU WILL.

LAST WEEK ON THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY, EXCEPT THIS IS THE PAST YEAR.

AND SO TAKING US BACK, WE DO START WITH WHAT WAS INCREDIBLY PIVOTAL FOR THIS ADMINISTRATION AND FOR THE REST OF THE COUNTRY AND THAT WAS THIS RUSSIA DOSSIER.

YEAH, SO DURING THE TRANSITION, THE LEADERS OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY TRAVEL UP TO NEW YORK TO BRIEF PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP ON RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN THE 2016 ELECTION, THE ELECTION HE HAD JUST WON.

AND THE PRESIDENT HAS A REAL PERSPECTIVE ON THIS MOMENT, WHICH IS THAT HE VIEWS THIS AS A SHAKE DOWN, A SHAKE DOWN BY THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY.

THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY, OF COURSE, COMES IN WITH A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE, WHICH IS WE'VE HAD THIS UNPRECEDENTED MEDDLING BY A FOREIGN ADVERSARY IN OUR DOMESTIC ELECTIONS AND THIS IS INTELLIGENCE THAT MUST BE SHARED WITH THE NEW PRESIDENT.

BUT IT REALLY SETS THE TONE.

IT SETS A TONE BECAUSE AFTER THAT MEETING, AFTER THAT INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING, DIRECTOR COMEY STAYS BEHIND TO TALK TO THE PRESIDENT ABOUT THE STEELE DOSSIER, WHICH HAD SOME PRETTY SENSITIVE MATERIAL IN IT.

IT'S A PRETTY UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENT FOR THE PRESIDENT-ELECT TO HEAR SOME OF THE DETAILS THAT ARE IN THAT DOCUMENT.

YET AT THE SAME TIME, THAT MOMENT SEEMS TO TAKE WHAT BECOMES AN AWKWARD CONVERSATION, LET'S SAY, AND IT BECOMES SOMETHING ELSE BECAUSE, OF COURSE, AS WE KNOW, JAMES COMEY ENDS UP LOSING HIS JOB.

HE DOES.

I MEAN, ULTIMATELY, THE MESSAGE THAT THE PRESIDENT RECEIVED, IS THAT WE, YOUR GOVERNMENT, HAS SOMETHING ON YOU.

AND IT'S A PRETTY, IT'S A PRETTY INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE.

AND HE IMMEDIATELY -- THE PRESIDENT IMMEDIATELY STARTS SORT OF DEFENDING HIMSELF WHEN THE INFORMATION IS PRESENTED TO HIM, SO MUCH SO THAT COMEY LEAVES THAT MEETING, GOES DOWN TO HIS SUV, AND STARTS TYPING MEMOS, CONTEMPORANEOUS NOTES THAT WE NOW RELY ON FOR AN ACCOUNT OF THAT MOMENT TO SORT OF EXPLAIN, HEY, THIS IS HOW THE PRESIDENT SORT OF RESPONDED TO THAT BRIEFING.

NOW, THERE S ANOTHER VERY IMPORTANT PLAYER IN ALL OF THIS, EVEN THOUGH HE DOESN'T MAKE AN APPEARANCE, SO TO SPEAK, AND THAT'S ROY COHN.

TELL ME ABOUT WHAT INFLUENCE HE HAS HAD ON THE PRESIDENT ON THE MAN DONALD TRUMP.

YEAH, SO ROY COHN WAS A SORT OF NO HOLDS BAR PRETTY AGGRESSIVE NEW YORK ATTORNEY WHO BEGINS WORKING WITH DONALD TRUMP IN THE '70s.

AND THEY DEVELOP A PRETTY, PRETTY INCREDIBLE CO-DEPENDENCY.

HE WITH HAD WORKED WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FATHER, BUT HE'S VERY INFLUENTIAL ON THE YOUNGER TRUMP IN KIND OF THE FORMATIVE YEAR.

PRESIDENT TRUMP SORT OF LEARNS HOW TO THROW PUNCHES AND LEARNS HOW TO RELY ON SORT OF A BULL DOG LIKE ATTORNEY PRETTY EARLY IN HIS REAL ESTATE CAREER.

IN MANY WAYS THERE'S LESSONS HE'S CARRIED THROUGHOUT HIS ENTIRE LIFE.

WHAT IS THINK IS INTERESTING IS WHERE WE ARE NOW WITH THE PLAYERS WHO ARE SO IMPORTANT, ONE OF THEM BEING ROD ROSENSTEIN, EXCUSE ME.

YOU GET TO REVISIT WHAT ROLE HE ACTUALLY PLAYED IN THE COMEY SITUATION.

AND THE COMEY FIRING, OF COURSE.

YOU KNOW, ROD ROSENSTEIN'S MEMO WAS INITIALLY THE WHITE HOUSE'S EXPLANATION FOR THE FIRING, RIGHT?

AND THE FIRING WAS AT THAT TIME BECAUSE JAMES COMEY HAD BEEN UNFAIR TO HILLARY CLINTON T THROUGHOUT THE ELECTION.

BUT EFFECTIVELY ROSENSTEIN, THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL WROTE A LETTER AND THE PRESIDENT ALLUDE TODAY THAT LETTER WHY HE WAS FIRING JAMES COMEY.

ANOTHER PERSON WE GET A BETTER BROADER PICTURE OF IS ROBERT MUELLER WHO SO MANY PEOPLE TALK ABOUT.

WE KNOW SO VERY LITTLE ABOUT HIM.

THIS DOCUMENTARY GIVES US AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHO HE IS AND KIND OF WHAT MAKES HIM TICK.

ABSOLUTELY.

BAD GUYS MAKE HIM TICK.

ULTIMATELY THIS IS A GUY WHO IS INTERESTED IN PROSECUTING, INDICTING AND PUTTING AWAY CRIMINALS, AND HE'S DEVOTED HIS ENTIRE LIFE TO DOING THIS.

HE'S TESTED THE WATERS OF PRIVATE PRACTICE, IT WASN'T FOR HIM.

HE IS VERY MUCH SORT OF A GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR, AND HE'S REALLY WELL RESPECTED IN WASHINGTON BY BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.

BUT HE'S ATTRACTED A CERTAIN LEGAL TALENT TO HELP HIM IN THIS INVESTIGATION THAT'S REALLY KIND OF A STAR TEAM.

YEAH, WHICH I THINK GETS DESCRIBED AS THE A-TEAM IN THE DOCUMENTARY.

SOMEBODY IN OUR FILM DESCRIBES IT AS SORT OF THE SCENE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE AVENGERS WHEN ALL THE HEROES COME TOGETHER.

YOU KNOW, THESE HEROES JUST HAPPEN TO BE, YOU KNOW, EXPERTS IN FORENSIC ACCOUNTING, EXPERTS IN SORT OF TERRORISM AND FINANCING, EXPERTS IN ALL THE THINGS YOU'D NEED TO BUILD A FINANCIAL CRIMES CASE.

CERTAINLY AN OBSTRUCTION CASE.

THESE ARE SOME OF THE TOP, YOU KNOW, U.S. PROSECUTORS IN THE COUNTRY.

SOME ARE FORMER FBI AGENTS AND THEY HAVE THIS ADMIRATION FOR ROBERT MUELLER IN A WAY WHICH THEY LEFT MOST OF THESE HIGH-PAYING LAW FIRM JOBS TO JOIN THIS CASE.

NOW, OF COURSE, I DO WANT TO SAY THAT EVEN THOUGH THE PERSON THE FILM SORT OF COMPARES THEM TO, 'THE AVENGERS' OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, TO CALL THEM HEROES IS A LITTLE PREEMPTIVE BECAUSE, OF COURSE, WE HAVEN'T SEEN WHAT THEY'VE DETERMINED.

WE DON'T NECESSARILY KNOW IF ANY OFFICIAL CHARGES WILL BE FILED AGAINST THE PRESIDENT OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

IT'S INCREDIBLY UNLIKELY.

ROBERT MUELLER IS GOING TO, YOU KNOW, REMOVE THE PRESIDENT FROM OFFICE.

IT'S NOT WHERE HIS AMBITION LIES.

IT'S NOT WHERE HIS ROLE IS.

IN FACT, THE ONLY REAL CENSURE THAT CAN HAPPEN TO THE PRESIDENT IS THROUGH EITHER IMPEACHMENT BY THE SENATE WHICH IS VERY UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN, A REPUBLICAN HELD SENATE, OR IF HE DOESN'T WIN REELECTION.

SO REALLY THE 2018 AND 2020 ELECTION S ARE SO CRITICAL TO THE NEXT STEPS IN THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION, AND THAT RESPONSIBILITY SORT OF LIES WITH, YOU KNOW, WITH YOU AND I AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

WE HAVE I THINK THE GREATEST IMPACT IN SEEING WHERE THIS INVESTIGATION GOES.

LISTEN, THERE IS SO MUCH MORE, I COULD TALK TO YOU ABOUT THIS DOCUMENTARY, OF COURSE.

WE EVEN GET INTO THE REEMERGENCE OF RUDY GIULIANI IN THE PRESIDENT'S ORBIT.

BUT UNFORTUNATELY WE'VE RUN OUT OF TIME.

SO THE BEST I CAN SUGGEST IS FOR PEOPLE TO TUNE IN TO 'FRONTLINE' FOR TRUMP'S SHOWDOWN WHICH AIRS OCTOBER 2ND AT 9:00 P.M. ON 13.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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