At least three documentary makers were at the Capitol riot

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The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot began its recent schedule of public hearings with two witnesses. One might have been predicted: a police officer on Capitol Hill that day who was assaulted by Donald Trump supporters. The other probably wouldn’t have been: a documentary filmmaker named Nick Quested.

Quested was there because he witnessed the actions of the extremist group Proud Boys in the days leading up to the riot and on January 6 itself. The group gave him that access, agreeing to help produce a film about his efforts despite his predilection for violence and breaking the law. So the committee asked Quested to come and describe what he had seen; Privately, the committee reviewed the footage Quested and his team had captured.

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Ultimately, however, having a filmmaker follow you around and make a movie about you wasn’t something that appealed to the vanity of the Proud Boys alone. On Tuesday, we learned that Trump himself was working with a documentary filmmaker named Alex Holder. In a subpoena obtained by Politico, the committee asked Holder to turn over any Jan. 6 footage in which plans to overturn the election were discussed and any interviews with Trump, his family and former Vice President Mike Penny.

In A declaration, Holder said he turned over the compliant footage to the committee. The project began in September 2020, he writes, with his team “simply [wanting] to better understand who the Trumps were and what motivated them to cling so desperately to power. Safe to say the team was well placed to explore this question.

Robert Costa of CBS News speak with people who had worked on Trump’s 2020 campaign and seen the filmmakers at campaign headquarters. One of them told Costa that the project was “a family affair”, which would help explain why its existence was Apparently not widely known. The result would be a three-part series about the former president that includes footage from Capitol Hill the day of the riot.

There was another documentary crew at the Capitol that day as well, capturing footage of another actor enthralled by the spotlight. Not Roger Stone, the longtime Trump adviser who worked with his own documentary team; he was not at the Capitol. This third crew worked with notorious disinformation peddler Alex Jones.

Next month, filmmaker Alex Lee Moyer is set to release a film called “Alex’s War”, centering on the radio host and conspiracy theorist. Jones was at Trump’s rally outside the White House the day of the riot and marched with Trump supporters to the Capitol, footage of which appears in an early cut of the film. At the Capitol, Jones briefly addressed the crowd with a megaphone.

speaking on a podcast last year, Moyer described being there with Jones.

“The scope of the film is about Alex’s career. It’s not about his personal life. It’s not like the tabloids,” she said. “It’s set against the backdrop of the spinoff around of the election.” She lamented that she was identified at the Capitol by the Jezebel site as a potential protester because she “couldn’t tell everyone that I was there to shoot this movie”. On Instagram this that day, she job a photo remarking that it was “the day we almost died but had a pretty good time”.

Jones himself was subpoenaed by the House committee and offered his testimony. (He claimed on his show that he repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.) There is no known footage of Jones inciting violence on Jan. 6 itself, but investigators were likely more curious. of its activity in the preceding weeks. He had been involved in the “Stop the Steal” effort after the 2020 election and had pushed people to Washington for both the Jan. 6 protest and previous rallies, including one in November 2020. Jones has been identified as a major fundraising channel for events associated with Jan. 6, though he was denied the opportunity to speak at Trump’s rally that morning. Instead, Jones spoke at a secondary rally on the evening of Jan. 5, 2021.

It does not appear that Moyer has been subpoenaed. (A question posed to the House committee was not answered at press time.) Jones may be far enough removed from the central events of the day that any footage would be irrelevant in the event that the committee is movable.

What makes the work of well-known documentarians useful is not necessarily what they saw on January 6, but what they saw the days before and after. The House committee doesn’t just want Holder’s footage from Capitol Hill; he wants to know what Trump et al. said at other times, too. Among Quested’s contributions to the investigation was footage of a meeting between the Proud Boys and far-right group Oath Keepers on January 5. Who knows what Moyer might have known.

Some of the day’s most useful footage, of course, was captured not by professional documentarians but by amateurs: the rioters themselves. Never before has a criminal event been so well recorded. For prominent participants, however, this impetus has simply been externalized. Trump’s team, the Proud Boys and Jones all wanted a record of what they were doing. They were just visible enough not to have to live stream on Facebook. They could ask someone else to capture it.

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