Coming in April on FRONTLINE
President Donald Trump listens to House Speaker Paul Ryan as he gathers with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 4, 2017. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
President Donald Trump’s time in office has been marked by ongoing turmoil — including in his own Republican Party, where presidential tweetstorms, inflammatory rhetoric and high-profile dissent have fueled open conflict.
In Trump’s Takeover, a new documentary airing Tuesday, April 10, FRONTLINE’s acclaimed political team tells the inside story of a president who vowed to take down the Washington establishment, and who has fought an intense war for control of the GOP.
Through interviews with longtime Republican legislators like Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), House Freedom Caucus members including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), current and former senior White House officials including Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, and other D.C. insiders, Trump’s Takeover examines how the president is remaking the GOP in his own image, counter-punching when criticized and publicly attacking those who defy him.
Gripping and revealing, the documentary is a window into the potential lasting impact of the Trump era on the Republican Party and the American political system as a whole.
The following week, on April 17, FRONTLINE’s reporting on the present, past and future of the GOP continues with McCain — a look at Sen. John McCain’s complicated relationship with President Trump, as well as his life and politics.
Then, on April 24, FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley team up for Trafficked in America — investigating the secret world of labor trafficking, and telling the story of Guatemalan teens forced to work against their will on an Ohio egg farm.
Here’s a closer look at FRONTLINE’s April lineup.
April 10: Trump’s Takeover
From Michael Kirk and the team behind Putin’s Revenge, Divided States of America and The Choice 2016, this documentary tells the story of how President Trump took over the Republican Party — from the perspective of Republican lawmakers and insiders themselves. The film traces the president’s relationship with the GOP-led Congress, from his Twitter attacks on fellow Republicans after the failed Obamacare repeal-and-replace effort, to a split over what many in the party said was the president’s inadequate response to deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, to when Congress ultimately delivered a major legislative victory for Trump with the passage of tax reform. “What the Republican establishment now know is Donald Trump is unequivocally the leader of the Republican Party,” former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tells FRONTLINE. But some conservatives say the Republican Party has made a “Faustian bargain” in supporting Trump: “The Republican party has been thoroughly Trumpified, and they’re bowing the knee to him,” author Charlie Sykes says. “Now, in a Faustian bargain, remember, you often get what you want… But then you find out that the price is way more than you were expecting.”
April 17: McCain
The story of the Republican Party’s evolution continues with McCain – an exploration of John McCain’s complicated relationship with President Trump and the Republican Party, as well as his life and politics. Drawing on new interviews and FRONTLINE’s deep archive of reporting, the documentary examines the GOP’s evolution across McCain’s political lifetime, and how President Trump came to see him as a foe. From McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, to speaking out against torture during the Bush administration, to his dramatic vote against the GOP’s health care bill last year, to how his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate contributed to a growing challenge to the party establishment, McCain traces the conservative standard-bearer’s motivations and his political history. Like Trump’s Takeover, the documentary is from Michael Kirk and his team.
April 24: Trafficked in America
FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley examine the case of Guatemalan teens forced to work against their will on an egg farm in Ohio. This investigation of labor trafficking exposes a criminal network that exploited undocumented minors, companies profiting from forced labor, and the U.S. government’s role. The documentary is from Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel, who also produced Rape in the Fields and Rape on the Night Shift — award-winning collaborative investigations of sexual abuse in the agricultural and janitorial industries, respectively.