As Donald Trump Announces His 2024 Run, a Look Back at His Presidency and Impact

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Former President Donald Trump announces his 2024 run for president on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. FRONTLINE has built a unique public record of Trump’s reshaping of the Republican Party and his impact on American life, politics and democracy.

Former President Donald Trump announces his 2024 run for president on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. FRONTLINE has built a unique public record of Trump’s reshaping of the Republican Party and his impact on American life, politics and democracy. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

November 16, 2022

Nov. 18, 2022, update: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced that he has appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to run part of the Department of Justice’s probe into the events surrounding Jan. 6, 2021, as well as an investigation into the handling of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate.

Former President Donald Trump has announced that he will once again seek the nation’s highest office, days after some within the Republican Party blamed him for the party’s weaker-than-expected performance in the 2022 midterms.

Through more than 20 documentaries dating back to 2016, FRONTLINE has built a unique public record of Trump’s reshaping of the GOP, his previous battles with the Department of Justice and a special counsel, and his impact on American life, politics and democracy — including the aftermath of his refusal to concede his 2020 presidential loss to Joe Biden and his role in efforts to overturn the election results that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Explore our collected documentaries below.


Trump’s Impact on U.S. Democracy

Lies, Politics and Democracy

From Michael Kirk and his team, this September 2022 documentary investigates how Trump and other American political leaders fed the public lies about the 2020 presidential election and embraced rhetoric that led to political violence.

American Insurrection

An investigation of how the threat of far-right extremist groups evolved during Trump’s presidency, from the deadly 2017 white supremacist Charlottesville rally to the January 2, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol. From a team led by Rick Rowley and A.C. Thompson, the documentary, updated in January 2022, is a collaboration with ProPublica and Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program, with support from the WNET Group’s Exploring Hate initiative.

United States of Conspiracy

How trafficking in conspiracy theories went from the fringes of U.S. politics into the White House — aided by an alliance among Trump, his longtime advisor Roger Stone and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. From Michael Kirk and his team, the documentary was updated in January 2022.

Plot to Overturn the Election

An investigation of how the myth about widespread election fraud made its way to the center of American politics. From FRONTLINE and ProPublica, this March 2022 documentary by Samuel Black and A.C. Thompson traces how a handful of people had an outsized impact on the current U.S. crisis of democratic legitimacy.

Trump’s American Carnage

Made in the weeks following the attack on the Capitol, this January 2021 documentary from Michael Kirk and his team examines the road to January 6. The documentary investigates Trump’s siege on his enemies, the media and even the leaders of his own party, who for years ignored the warning signs of what was to come.

Whose Vote Counts

With Columbia Journalism Investigations and reporters from the USA Today Network, this October 2020 documentary from Jelani Cobb, June Cross and Tom Jennings traces how unfounded claims of extensive voter fraud entered the political mainstream in the U.S., and how and why Trump and other Republicans sought to attack the legitimacy of absentee ballots.


Trump’s Impact on U.S. Politics

American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil

Premiering in November 2020, this post-election special from a team led by Mike Shum and Blair Woodbury explores the lives, fears and hopes of Americans in the chaotic months leading up to the historic 2020 presidential contest – following people around the country as they dealt with COVID-19 in their communities, responded to George Floyd’s killing and experienced a polarizing election and its aftermath.

Supreme Revenge

Updated in November 2020, this documentary from Michael Kirk and his team examines how the conservative majority that paved the way for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade came to be, exploring Sen. Mitch McConnell and former President Trump’s roles.

America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump

This four-hour January 2020 documentary series from Michael Kirk and his team investigates how America’s increasingly bitter, divided and toxic politics came to be. Part One traces how former President Barack Obama’s promise of unity collapsed as increasing racial, cultural and political divisions laid the groundwork for Trump’s rise. Part Two examines how Trump’s campaign exploited those divisions, how his presidency unleashed anger on both sides of the divide and what America’s polarization could mean for the country’s future.

Trump’s Showdown

This October 2018 documentary from filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team traces how an investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election grew to threaten Trump’s presidency. It examines Trump’s unprecedented battle against special counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI and even his own attorney general. An updated version, The Mueller Investigation, aired in March 2019.

Trump’s Takeover

In this April 2018 documentary, Michael Kirk and his team went inside President Trump’s high-stakes battle for control of the GOP, examining how Trump attacked fellow Republicans and used inflammatory rhetoric that rallied his base and further divided the country in his first year as president.

War on the EPA

This October 2017 documentary examines how the anti-regulatory and anti-climate-change-science movements in America reached a moment of triumph during Trump’s presidency, and how the EPA pursued a wide swath of environmental policy rollbacks at the time. From a team led by James Jacoby and Anya Bourg.

Trump’s Road to the White House

From January 2017, this documentary by Michael Kirk and his team examines how Donald Trump defied expectations to win the presidency in 2016.


Trump and Immigration

Targeting El Paso

From Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, this January 2020 documentary investigates how El Paso, Texas, became the Trump administration’s immigration policy testing ground. Interviews with current and former officials, Border Patrol agents, advocates and migrants tell the inside story from the epicenter of the border crisis.

Kids Caught in the Crackdown

As the detention of migrant children rose under President Trump, FRONTLINE and The Associated Press in November 2019 investigated what was happening inside federally-funded shelters and the lasting impact on children held in U.S. custody. From a team led by Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel.

Zero Tolerance

In this October 2019 documentary, Michael Kirk and his team investigate how President Trump turned the issue of immigration into a powerful political weapon that fueled division and violence, and how three political insurgents became the driving force behind his administration’s crackdown on immigration.

Separated: Children at the Border

This 2018 investigation chronicles what happened to immigrant children separated from their parents at the border. From Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, the documentary explores the development and impact of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and how both Trump and Obama dealt with minors at the border.

The Gang Crackdown

From Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, this 2018 documentary explores how a slew of gruesome killings linked to the violent gang MS-13 led to many immigrant teens being accused of gang affiliation and unlawfully detained, and how Trump made the gang a key exhibit in support of his immigration agenda.


Trump and COVID-19

The Virus: What Went Wrong?

A June 2020 investigation of the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and why the U.S. was caught so unprepared. From Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, the documentary unpacks the reasons for, and defining moments of, the Trump administration’s halting response, and outlines a string of missed opportunities to contain the virus before it was too late.

Coronavirus Pandemic

Airing just weeks after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, this April 2020 documentary tells the inside story of how COVID-19 took a toll first in Washington state and then the rest of the United States, and examines what happened when politics and science collided. From a team led by Miles O’Brien, Kate McMahon and Caleb Hellerman.


Trump and Foreign Policy

Putin’s Revenge

This 2017 documentary from filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team examined how a lifetime of grievances against the U.S. led Russian President Vladimir Putin to target the 2016 presidential election, and why it appeared that Trump was the kind of candidate Putin could like.

Trump’s Trade War

A May 2019 examination of President Trump’s gamble to confront China over trade, from Rick Young, Laura Sullivan, Emma Schwartz and Fritz Kramer. This collaborative investigation by FRONTLINE, NPR and the Investigative Reporting Workshop examines what led the world’s two largest economies to the brink, and the billions at stake.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

This October 2019 documentary from Martin Smith, Linda Hirsch and Sara Obeidat examined the rise and rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, including how the Trump administration reacted to the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Taliban Country

In January 2020, as the Trump administration negotiated a deal with the Taliban to bring an end to a nearly 20-year U.S.-led war, this documentary from a team led by Najibullah Quraishi and Karim Shah revealed the group’s resurgence in Afghanistan and the continuing threat posed by ISIS.


The Events that Shaped Trump

The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden

Ahead of the 2020 election, FRONTLINE’s critically acclaimed series The Choice offered interwoven investigative biographies of both major-party candidates. This documentary from Michael Kirk and his team examines President Trump’s approach to power and how he responded in moments of crisis.

President Trump

Drawn from The Choice 2016, this 2017 documentary from Michael Kirk and his team offers an examination of key moments that shaped Donald Trump. Interviews with advisors, business associates and biographers reveal how Trump transformed himself from real estate developer to reality TV star to president.

These and hundreds of additional FRONTLINE documentaries are available to stream on our website, in the PBS Video App and on FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel.

This post has been updated.


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

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