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America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump

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AMERICA'S GREAT DIVIDE (PART 1)

DAVID AXELROD, Former Obama chief strategist:

I remember when Barack Obama got the call that he was going to make the keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004. And as soon as he hung up the phone, he turned to me and he said, "I know what I want to say. I want to tell my story as part of the larger American story."

NARRATOR:

He delivered the speech of his life.

2004 DNC Convention

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-Ill.:

Thank you. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it—my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation.

WESLEY LOWERY, The Washington Post:

The idea of Barack Obama being unique in so many ways—unique with his funny name; unique with his skin color; unique with his message. "Look, I’m not a creature of Washington. I’m new. I’m just showing up. I’m willing to work across the aisle."

BARACK OBAMA:

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America! There is not a black America and a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America, there's the United States of America!

MEGYN KELLY, Former anchor, Fox News:

He was a star—that we hadn’t seen a politician like that before, not in recent history.

He’s going to tell it like it is, and you can believe in what he says, and he doesn’t seem to be so wrapped up in this partisan divide.

BARACK OBAMA:

Thank you very much, everybody, God bless you.

MEGYN KELLY:

He was going to be the one who was going to try to heal that wound.

NARRATOR:

Barack Obama arrived with a promise of unity.

BARACK OBAMA:

Yes, we can heal this nation.

NARRATOR:

But his presidency would usher in an age of unprecedented anger—

PROTESTER:

Afro-Leninsm!

NARRATOR:

—resentment—

PROTESTER:

I want my country back!

NARRATOR:

—political conflict—

BARACK OBAMA:

The Republicans messed up so bad—

NARRATOR:

—polarization—

PROTESTERS:

What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!

NARRATOR:

—a turning point in "America’s Great Divide."

2008 Iowa

MALE NEWSREADER:

Presidential contenders began their final push in Iowa today—

BARACK OBAMA:

And because somebody stood up, a few more stood up, and then a few thousand stood up, and a then few million stood up. Iowa, I need you to stand up!

BEN RHODES, Former Obama adviser:

I think what Obama represented was generational change. Here's a younger person, unburdened by some of the old fights of the past. He obviously represented racial change in a way that was very motivating to African Americans.

BARACK OBAMA:

We will win this election, we will change the course of history, and the real journey to heal the nation and repair the world will have truly begun. Thank you, Iowa!

BEN RHODES:

He was also just an incredibly talented and charismatic and inspirational politician.

CROWD:

Obama! Obama! Obama!

NARRATOR:

Obama’s political rise came at a time when America was increasingly divided.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you—

NARRATOR:

At the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, the nation was reeling.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

—the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!

STEVE SCHMIDT:

The country had been through eight tumultuous years.

NARRATOR:

Steve Schmidt was a Bush adviser and counselor to Vice President Cheney.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

—fellow citizens, at this hour—

STEVE SCHMIDT:

We saw a war fought over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

—disarm Iraq, to free its people—

STEVE SCHMIDT:

We saw the United States mired in a civil war in Iraq.

BARACK OBAMA:

I opposed this war from the start.

STEVE SCHMIDT:

And what Barack Obama was offering was widely appealing. He represented generational change.

BARACK OBAMA:

We can finally bring the change we need to Washington.

We are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction—

NARRATOR:

In 2008, as Obama ran for president, he delivered a simple message.

BARACK OBAMA:

Because the American people are looking for change in America—

MATT BAI, Author, "The Argument":

There was a real ability to project onto Obama what you wanted to see. And he encouraged that. I mean, "Hope and Change" is not a—it’s not an agenda. "Hope and Change" doesn’t mean anything. "Hope and Change" basically says to the public, "Whatever you think ‘Hope and Change’ look like, that’s what I can be."

CROWD:

Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!

FEMALE CONVENTION ANNOUNCER:

—and the next vice president of the United States, Sarah Palin.

NARRATOR:

Democrats weren’t the only ones looking for a change. For Republicans, Sarah Palin ignited a new political force.

MEGYN KELLY:

Sarah Palin came out and brought the house down. She electrified that GOP base like no one I had ever seen, and you recall, that was one of the times where the prompter failed and she just ad-libbed it.

SARAH PALIN:

I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?

Lipstick.

MEGYN KELLY:

And people loved it! She was almost a pre-Trump in the way that she just sort of had this matter-of-fact, sort of folksy, she wasn’t too highbrow, and so "real Americans"—you know, "regular folks"—could relate to her.

SARAH PALIN:

Well, I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment.

ALEX MARLOW, Editor-in-chief, Breitbart:

She was the beginning of the shift where the people began to believe that they could take the power back from the elite.

SARAH PALIN:

I’ve learned quickly these last few days that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone, but—

CROWD:

[Boos]

STEVE SCHMIDT, Former McCain campaign adviser:

She tapped into a simmering grievance in the country that's real. There's a rebellion that's taken place in this country against the elites.

SARAH PALIN:

Thank you, and God bless America!

NARRATOR:

For her supporters, she was heroic.

"SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" ANNOUNCER:

It’s "Saturday Night Live"!

NARRATOR:

But in New York, she was made into a joke.

"SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" VOICEOVER:

I present Gov. Sarah Palin.

TINA FEY:

First off, I just want to say how excited I am to be in front of both the liberal elite media as well as the liberal regular media. [Laughter] I am lookin' forward to a portion of your questions, so let’s get started. Yes, you.

WILL FORTE:

You said that you like to visit the "pro-America parts of the country." Are there parts of the country that you consider un-American?

TINA FEY:

Yes. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, California.

MEGYN KELLY:

When you started to see the shine come off that car was the Katie Couric interview.

KATIE COURIC:

What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this?

MEGYN KELLY:

Over time, as the camera usually does, it brings out the truth.

SARAH PALIN:

Um—all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years. I have a—

KATIE COURIC:

Can you name a few?

SARAH PALIN:

I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

MEGYN KELLY:

But most Republicans, who already disliked the media, blamed Katie for that.

SARAH PALIN:

It's kind of suggested, it seems like, "Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

MEGYN KELLY:

Most Republicans looked at that and said, "She was set up; that was a 'gotcha’ question," and stood by Palin, and it just made them hate the media more.

SARAH PALIN:

I was reading today a copy of The New York Times—

CROWD:

[Boos]

FRANK LUNTZ, GOP pollster:

If you want to pinpoint the moment when the right completely rejected the left—

SARAH PALIN:

—we have a scarcity of common sense—

FRANK LUNTZ:

—I think it was over the Sarah Palin nomination.

SARAH PALIN:

Now this is not a man who sees America as you and I see America—

FRANK LUNTZ:

And for one brief, shining moment, the right saw her as everything they were looking for: brash, tough, independent, someone who said what they meant and meant what they said and wouldn’t edit it for anyone.

CROWD:

Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!

MALE NEWSREADER:

—she’s something else!

MALE NEWSREADER:

Sarah Palin has completely transformed the Republican Party and the next presidency of the United States.

NARRATOR:

McCain and Palin wouldn’t prevail. But the populist fervor would grow.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Boy, were you right about this one! Did you know how great she is?

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

It’s the Inauguration Day of the nation’s first African American president.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Hundreds of thousands of people already—

NARRATOR:

Barack Obama had promised unity. Much of the country seemed to believe he could deliver it.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-Va., Former House minority whip:

I looked out, never forget, from the west front of the Capitol all the way down to the monument, and I think it’s about a mile, and all you could see were people—a sea of people. The fact that our country elected a black president is just—it was huge in significance.

BRODERICK JOHNSON, Former Obama adviser:

The thing I remember most about that day was an older white man turning to me and my daughter and him saying to her, "Young lady, you could be up there one day. You could be president of the United States." I will never, ever forget that moment.

CROWD:

Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!

JUDY WOODRUFF, Anchor, "PBS NewsHour":

Even Americans who had been skeptical of Barack Obama were giving him a look, listening to what he was saying. I think there was just an enormous amount of goodwill toward him and toward the possibility of what might be under this first African American president.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS:

Congratulations, Mr. President.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NewHour":

Obama led with that message of "We are now going to come together; we’re going to unify the country; even if you didn’t back me, I’m now going to usher in this better part of your life."

CROWD:

Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!

MALE NEWSREADER:

The first couple to arrive at the Neighborhood Ball—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The first-ever Neighborhood Ball, open to the public.

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES:

[Sings] At last my love has come along—

JELANI COBB, Author, "The Substance of Hope":

He seemed like a kind of redemptive vision for American politics.

People on the national stage saw Barack Obama as a kind of man apart from the pettiness, the various kinds of ways in which politics did not reflect the highest aspirations of the United States as a society.

And he’s black.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see how that was a doomed mission from the start.

NARRATOR:

In fact, that very evening, across Washington, Republican leaders gathered.

ROBERT DRAPER, The New York Times Magazine:

A meeting at dinner took place in a famous steakhouse in downtown Washington.

FRANK LUNTZ:

The room was filled. It was a who’s who of ranking members who had at one point been committee chairmen or in the majority who now wondered out loud whether they were in the permanent minority.

ROBERT DRAPER:

Many of them had attended Obama’s inauguration, and they had seen that breathtaking spectacle, and it felt like a wholesale repudiation of the Republican Party.

NARRATOR:

As the night wore on, they talked about a plan of attack.

REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-Ga., Former speaker of the House:

The point I made was that we had to be prepared to run a full-court press. And we had to see how Obama behaved and to offer an alternative to what he wanted to do.

NARRATOR:

They would try to block the president, fight his agenda, exploit the divide.

NEWT GINGRICH:

I thought he could be defeated partly by his own ideology and by his own behaviors.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Ballgowns are on their way to the cleaners, the party is over, and for both the new president and the nation—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Now he is facing many sobering challenges—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The economy, it’s a frustration with the economy—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—back to the economy, then. Obviously it’s issue No. 1, it’s on the front pages of every newspaper—

STEVE SCHMIDT:

The economy that Barack Obama inherited, I think, is the defining event of this generation—even more so than 9/11. And it profoundly reshaped American politics.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Anger from the U.S. public toward bankers is high—

NARRATOR:

The economy was collapsing.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The growing backlash against Wall Street—

NARRATOR:

Trillions of dollars had been used to prop up Wall Street. Middle-class Americans were angry.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—they took to the streets to express their anger—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Frustration with financial bankruptcy continues to grow—

CHARLIE SYKES, Former conservative radio host:

The way it looked from ground level was that the big banks, the people who had created the financial crisis, were being bailed out when the little guy was being screwed.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—on the heels of growing public anger aimed at banks which received—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—backlash against Wall Street—

NARRATOR:

Before he could deliver on his promise of unity, Obama had to confront the economic crisis.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—billions in bonuses—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—the banks need to be held accountable—

DAVID AXELROD:

We were told by our economic advisers that there was a 1 in 3 chance that the country would slip into a second Great Depression. We were on a ledge, and we could fall off that ledge.

NARRATOR:

His new secretary of the treasury was overwhelmed.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, Former secretary of treasury:

We’d already thrown trillions and trillions of dollars at the problem, and I think it was a very perilous moment, a very existential moment at that point.

DAN BALZ, The Washington Post:

How do you respond to that? Not only how do you respond to it in terms of getting the economy moving again, but how do you respond to it in holding people accountable for what happened? And that was a definition moment.

NARRATOR:

Some of his political advisers argued for what they called "Old Testament justice"—punishing the banks.

NOAM SCHEIBER, Author, "The Escape Artists":

David Axelrod, Obama’s top political adviser, very much wanted some scalps. Robert Gibbs, who was the press secretary but also a very senior political aide, wanted scalps.

NARRATOR:

Geithner told the president taking on the banks could make the economic crisis much worse.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER:

You had to make sure you kept concentrated and focused on the core basic imperative that was going to affect the fortunes of hundreds of millions of Americans, not get too wrapped up in trying to design political theater.

NARRATOR:

In the end, the president would be cautious.

ROBERT REICH, Secretary of labor, 1993-97:

Barack Obama is inherently very conservative. And he also wants to believe the best in other people, and he really does believe that everybody can ultimately find common ground and work together.

I think it was a mistake, because the bankers really got off very easy, and the public knows it.

DAN BALZ:

There was a perception that President Obama flinched at that point; that in one way or another, he was not prepared to go there, to go after CEOs or to take people to court and to charge them with things.

NARRATOR:

Anger and distrust of the government would grow.

DAVID AXELROD:

It was deeply, deeply unpopular. And this came at a time when people were losing their homes, were losing their jobs and felt like they had been abandoned.

ANN COULTER, Author, "Mugged":

The rich and the powerful get away with anything. Oops! [Laughs] Oops! They F-up and I have to share in the losses, and every American does. I mean, that just—it just burns up ordinary people. It is just ordinary middle-class people thinking, "I can’t get away with that!"

RICK SANTELLI, CNBC newsreader:

The government is promoting bad behavior, because we certainly don’t want to put stimulus—

NARRATOR:

And on cable television, the talk had already begun of something they called “a tea party.”

RICK SANTELLI:

—and think that they ought to save it—

DAVID WESSEL, Author, "In Fed We Trust":

The word "tea party" is born in a CNBC moment when Rick Santelli, a somewhat agitated, even under the best of circumstances, reporter for CNBC in Chicago starts to—starts an uproar.

RICK SANTELLI:

This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? Raise their hand! [Booing] President Obama, are you listening?

We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing.

FRANK LUNTZ:

This created a level of anger like I haven’t seen since I got involved in politics in the 1980s.

People really, really resented this president for siding with the rich and the powerful and forgetting them. That was the onus where the Tea Party was created.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

You gotta be kidding me! What are we putting up with, America?

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Like that will get the economy kicking! Well, did it? No, it didn’t—$450 billion down the crapper.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Give us a trillion dollars and oh, everything will be great. Well, exactly the opposite happens, so can we revoke that bailout now?

NARRATOR:

Even as the economic crisis was roiling the country, on Capitol Hill, Barack Obama wanted to push Congress to take on another divisive issue: overhauling health care.

DAVID AXELROD:

I was his political adviser and I understood how much political currency it would take to pass that law.

And he said, "Well, what are we supposed to do? Put our approval rating on the shelf and admire it for the next eight years? Or are we supposed to draw down on it to try and solve some of these really big, intractable problems?"

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait and it will not wait another year.

We can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. We can’t afford to do it. It’s time.

CHARLIE SYKES:

There is nothing more fraught than health care because it is so personal and it is so intimate. And every political party that decides to take on health care in some massive, poorly understood way reaps both the backlash and political retaliation.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Americans are seriously worried that this is going to destroy the health care that their parents get.

ANN COULTER:

This has been on the left’s to-do list since neither FDR or LBJ got it done. They have just been waiting, waiting, waiting. "When we have the presidency and both houses of Congress, we are going to push this through."

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

It’s about too much power going to federal government—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

The whole point of this is to get everybody enrolled in the government health care plan.

NARRATOR:

From across the divide, Sarah Palin reappeared, wielding a new political weapon.

ALEX MARLOW:

She was a maven on Facebook. The original politician who saw that you could skirt the media and you could get the message out unfiltered, uncut to the public was Sarah Palin. She did that with Facebook.

FEMALE VOICE [reading Palin comment]:

As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!

NARRATOR:

She exploited fear with a new phrase that went viral: "death panels."

FEMALE VOICE [reading Palin comment]:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s "death panel."

NARRATOR:

It wasn’t true.

STEVE SCHMIDT:

She is the first of a generation of politicians who live in a post-truth environment.

NARRATOR:

Steve Schmidt had also been a top campaign aide for John McCain’s presidential run. He had pushed McCain to select Sarah Palin.

STEVE SCHMIDT:

She was, and there’s no polite way to say it, but a serial liar. She would say things that are simply not true, or things that were picked up from the internet. And this obliteration of fact from fiction, of truth from lie, has become now endemic in American politics. But it started then.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

She introduced the term "death panel" when referring to it.

NARRATOR:

The right-wing media ran with it.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—and we’re going to have a government rationing body that tells women with breast cancer, "You're dead."

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

We now have leftist radicals in charge of your health care decisions rather than doctors. We’re hanging by a thread.

GLENN BECK:

If you think this country is great but Obama and the czars are marching our country right off a cliff, save your life! Grab the parachute, pull! And come follow me.

NARRATOR:

Glenn Beck was a former Top-40 disc jockey. He rose to the pinnacle of Fox News during the presidency of Barack Obama.

WESLEY LOWERY:

To watch the coverage from the right-wing media of the Obama years now is to experience true hysteria. To see Glenn Beck every day and the things he was saying about the president.

GLENN BECK:

I’ve got my little Messiah here, my dashboard Obama. I’m going to pray to him later, maybe get some universal health care.

Now, for more insanity and blood shootin' out of your eyes, Obama!

WESLEY LOWERY:

You would have thought the nation was collapsing.

GLENN BECK:

President Obama, why don’t you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete, what are you doing?

This is not the America I grew up in or you grew up in! When we said change, we didn’t mean this! Nobody meant this!

FRANK LUNTZ:

It would never have happened without Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck was the catalyst for the uprising.

GLENN BECK:

If you want to understand Barack Obama—

FRANK LUNTZ:

Glenn had the perfect phraseology that took this anger and channeled it into an organization that rose up from nowhere.

NARRATOR:

For Beck and Fox—record ratings.

BEN RHODES:

Glenn Beck was the kind of seeding of this conspiracy theory.

NARRATOR:

Ben Rhodes was one of Obama’s closest aides.

BEN RHODES:

"Obama is seeking to control your lives." You know, "Obama has a secret plan to do X or to do Y." Or "This shadowy figure in the Obama administration wants to regulate every aspect of your life." And it kind of starts there and then it gets darker and darker.

NARRATOR:

Facebook and Meetup.com welcomed Beck and other angry Americans. Now they would organize.

CHARLIE SYKES:

You had this vast outrage machine that arose on the right. And this outrage machine—you're talking about not just the Tea Party, but talk radio, Fox News—really changed the nature of our politics in ways that I think we're living with today.

MALE PROTESTER:

We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!

NARRATOR:

The outrage machine online.

MALE PROTESTER:

You want to kill my grandparents, you come through me first!

NARRATOR:

Anger on the ground.

MALE PROTESTER:

You dirty thieves!

MALE PROTESTER:

We can't afford it!

MALE PROTESTER:

Afro-Leninism!

MALE NEWSREADER:

There is an ugliness with these fringe people who are comparing the president to Hitler.

JELANI COBB, The New Yorker:

This is not simply a disagreement about policy. This is a repudiation of Obama, and more significantly, a repudiation of Obama’s race.

MALE PROTESTER:

His church was based on racism—

JELANI COBB:

They’re depicting Obama as an ape on signs that they’re carrying. There are pejorative stereotypes about Africa and Africans.

PROTESTERS:

USA! USA!

NARRATOR:

Obama’s election offered hope of racial harmony. But in that first year it was clear that race was a central part of the divide, and his presidency was a flash point.

RONALD BROWNSTEIN, Author, "The Second Civil War":

Obama was a big symbol. Every time you turned on your TV, you were reminded that the country was changing in fundamental ways. I mean, we had had 200 years of presidents; we had never had one that looked like Barack Obama. And his just mere presence in the White House was a daily reminder that this is a different America than many people had grown up with. And it scared the hell out of a lot of people.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Prominent African American Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.—

NARRATOR:

One early incident inflamed both sides.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—arrested in his own home.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

His arrest is prompting outrage. The story grabbed national headlines because the man in question is one of the nation’s most prominent African American scholars.

JELANI COBB:

Professor Henry Louis Gates is arrested in his own home for trespassing, and Barack Obama says what virtually every black person in the country thought.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

—that the Cambridge Police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

Thank you, everybody.

JELANI COBB:

All of a sudden, there’s pressure on the other side. There are people who are saying that he’s anti-cop; there’s a concern that he’s racist.

GLENN BECK:

This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep- seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don’t know what it is. This guy is, I believe, a racist.

BEN RHODES:

People lost their minds. He had the largest drop in his polling numbers of anything that happened in the eight years of the Obama presidency.

NARRATOR:

He apologized.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

These are issues that are still very sensitive here in America, and so to the extent that my choice of words didn’t illuminate but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate. All right? Thank you, guys.

NARRATOR:

Then he went even further: a photo-op.

DAVID REMNICK, Editor, The New Yorker:

Obama did this very awkward thing where he called in Henry Louis Gates and the police officer, and they had this "beer summit."

MARK LEIBOVICH, The New York Times Magazine:

He would probably say that that was one of the most ridiculous moments of his presidency. Not so much that he brought a black Harvard professor and a white Cambridge cop together, but the fact that the media anointed it a "beer summit."

NARRATOR:

It was a painful lesson.

BEN RHODES:

And the lesson he took from that is like, "This is a loser. If I’m weighing in on these racial issues, it’s only going to galvanize the forces against me."

DAVID AXELROD:

What I didn't appreciate as much then was just how much Obama would become a symbol of change in the country—a change from a white America to a more diverse America, a more cosmopolitan America. I think he became symbol for segments of our country of change that they did not welcome.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Time for a little healing over some beers, my friends! He wants you to pay attention because his poll numbers are tanking.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

This is just—folks, it is a lousy, lousy image to present to America.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Now they’re using the poor cop as a, you know, a stooge here to make believe he did it all. We are skating on very thin ice with this man in the White House, and you’ve only seen the beginning of it.

MALE SPEAKER:

Madam Speaker—the president of the United States.

NARRATOR:

Health care reform was stuck. The divide with the Republicans was widening.

Obama would demand action.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action! Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care!

NARRATOR:

But at that moment, the outrage machine arrived on the floor of Congress.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms—the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON, R-S.C.:

You lie!

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

That’s not true.

DAVID AXELROD:

A member shouted, "You lie!"

JOE WILSON:

You lie!

NARRATOR:

It was Republican Rep. Joe Wilson from South Carolina.

JOHN PODESTA, Former Obama adviser:

Well, the Tea Party experience came right into the House chamber. But to see that sort of disrespect on the floor of the House directed towards the president of the United States I think caused everybody’s head to snap.

JOE WILSON:

You lie!

STEVE SCHMIDT, Former GOP strategist:

Not too many years before, he would have resigned in disgrace from the Congress and he would have been called upon to do so by leaders of both parties.

Instead, what happened? He raised a couple million dollars overnight.

What’s the lesson there? There's no longer a punishment for dishonesty, for craziness. It’s rewarded.

NARRATOR:

The president faced an emerging reality: The Republicans' Inauguration Day pledge to oppose him was coming true.

There was no way health reform would be bipartisan.

BEN RHODES:

He wasn’t going to get a Republican vote for anything. If you're going to tell Barack Obama that you can't do anything without a Republican vote, you're telling him, "You cannot do a single thing as president"; that you just—you're just going to sit there and do nothing. Because the Republicans weren’t going to give him votes for anything.

ROBERT REICH, Author, "Beyond Outrage":

Barack Obama came into office thinking, "Well, I can reason with them. If I’ve got good arguments, they’re reasonable people, and we’ll come to some reasonable conclusion." Well, he was wrong; that was not there. The Republicans didn’t want to give him any victory. It had nothing to do with reason or logic, they just didn’t want to give him a victory.

NARRATOR:

He would fight back, rallying his Democratic supporters, including many young, diverse liberals.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Do not quit! Do not give up! We keep on going! We are going to get this done! We are going to make history! We are going to fix health care in America with your help! God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!

MALE NEWSREADER:

Down to the wire on health care reform. The House votes just hours from now—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

After months of rancor in the streets, the vote takes place in just a few hours.

NARRATOR:

It had consumed the first year of his presidency.

MALE CONGRESSIONAL AIDE:

Members will record their votes by electronic device.

On this vote, the yeas are 219, the nays are 212. The motion is adopted.

MALE NEWSREADER:

It's 219 to 212. No votes from Republicans—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—all Democrats, no Republicans—

MALE NEWSREADER:

This is a huge victory for this president.

MALE NEWSREADER:

For decades they've been trying to do it. It has now been done.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.

MEGYN KELLY:

Obamacare got shoved down our throats, without majority support in the country, which was a huge thing. And people were angry; Republicans were angry. And I don’t think Republicans have ever forgiven him for it.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—what many call socialized medicine—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

It’s the most brazen assault on a fundamental aspect of our republic—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—every single Republican senator votes consistently against government-run health care should be a clear indication—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

This is going to be the end of the economy as we know it.

PETER BAKER, Author, "Obama: The Call of History":

By passing a health care program essentially on the strength of one party, it was fated—destined to become a continuing partisan divide, part of the issues that would come up in election after election from then on.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—perfect title, "Lies, Damn Lies." That’s what Obamacare was all about. Nancy Pelosi—

NARRATOR:

The anger directed at Obama was growing.

There were even questions about who he really was, from across the divide.

FEMALE PROTESTER:

He is not an American citizen! He is a citizen of Kenya. And I don’t want this flag to change. I want my country back!

WESLEY LOWERY:

The birther movement was so powerful because it spoke to all types of other anxieties that many white Americans had about Barack Obama. "Well, he’s not even from here. He’s not one of us. Prove it. Prove you were born here."

NARRATOR:

Right-wing websites picked it up.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He won’t even produce a birth certificate, don’t you love that?

NARRATOR:

Talk radio joined in.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—something there that the president doesn’t want people to see on that birth certificate—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

If you have nothing to hide, why won’t you show the birth certificate?

NARRATOR:

Before long, it caught the attention of reality TV star Donald Trump.

ROGER STONE, Former Trump political adviser:

He asks me about it. He says, "‘Have you read this stuff? It’s very interesting. There’s a lot of odd questions here." But he brings the issue into the mainstream.

NARRATOR:

Roger Stone was a longtime political adviser to Trump. He has since been convicted of lying to Congress.

ROGER STONE:

Trump understands among Republicans there’s a very substantial majority who have questions about Obama’s origins and how he just pops up out of nowhere to become a national figure and whether he was in fact eligible to serve as president.

SAM NUNBERG, Former Trump political adviser:

We thought that Trump needed an issue that resonates with people. The birth certificate meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Overall it talked about how Obama was different; he was a different kind of person; he was a Manchurian-type candidate.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

They released the birth certificate—

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

What is the logic? What's the connection?

NARRATOR:

Trump was thinking of running against Obama in 2012.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Do you have any doubts?

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

It doesn’t matter if I have doubts or not—

BARBARA WALTERS:

Please welcome my friend Donald Trump.

NARRATOR:

He made himself the face of the birther movement.

DONALD TRUMP:

Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? I think he probably—

WHOOPI GOLDBERG:

Why should he have to?

DONALD TRUMP:

Because I have to and everybody else has to, Whoopi. Why wouldn’t he show—excuse me. No, excuse me. I really believe there’s a birth certificate. Why—look, she’s smiling. Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?

WHOOPI GOLDBERG:

Because I never heard any white president asked to be shown the birth certificate. When you become a president—

DONALD TRUMP:

Everybody does. Everybody does.

You are not allowed to be a president if you were not born in this country. He may not have been born in this country, and I—

MATT BAI:

That was the racist manifestation of resistance to the president. Donald Trump was at the forefront of it.

I think it rankled President Obama, because the birther stuff was just a pure racism/xenophobia, and it was based in nothing.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

More than 40% of the population still question whether he’s actually an American or not.

NARRATOR:

Obama had already released his birth certificate during the presidential campaign. But the issue wouldn’t go away.

BEN RHODES:

Obama was furious. It wasn’t Trump—it was the media. If Trump couldn’t get booked on all those shows, he’d just be some other whack job tweeting about conspiracy theories and maybe getting booked on Fox. He’s a—Donald Trump is a creation of the American political news media, and that’s what angered Obama; that’s what angered us in the White House.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The great part about a guy with your resources is that you were able to deploy people to go and find out what is actually going on with Barack Obama’s birth certificate. What did you find?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, we’re looking into it very, very strongly.

Nobody knows who he is. It's very strange. The whole thing is very strange.

—and she was saying he was born essentially in Kenya—

—and if he wasn’t born in this country, it’s one of the greatest scams in the history of politics, and in the history, period.

The more I go into it, the more suspect it is.

NARRATOR:

Obama reluctantly released more proof of his citizenship.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Now, as many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth.

This thing just kept on going. Yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, Aug. 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital. We’ve posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the internet—

NARRATOR:

Three days later, it was time for payback.

DAN BALZ:

The president uses the White House Correspondents' Dinner that year with Donald Trump in the room to completely ridicule Donald Trump in front of this audience that, you know—journalists and lobbyists and government officials, and people who at that time Trump wanted to have the respect of.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

All right, everybody, please have a seat. Donald Trump is here tonight. No one is happier, no one is prouder, to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald. [Laughter] And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter—like, did we fake the moon landing? [Laughter]

DAVID REMNICK:

I was two tables away from Trump. The conventional way in Washington of absorbing a joke at the White House Correspondents' Dinner is to keep your chin up and at least pretend to have a sense of humor about it, even if you go cry into your pillow that night. Trump was steaming. His face was all locked in; he was not having a good time.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

All kidding aside. Obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. [Laughter] For example—no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" [Laughter] at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meat Loaf. [Laughter] You fired Gary Busey. [Laughter] And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. [Laughter and applause] Well handled, sir. [Laughter] Well handled.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT, "The Apprentice" contestant:

But it just kept going and going, and he just kept hammering him. And I thought, "Oh, Barack Obama is starting something that I don’t know if he’ll be able to finish."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there. [Laughter]

ROGER STONE:

I think that is the night that he resolves to run for president. I think that he is kind of motivated by it. "Maybe I’ll just run. Maybe I’ll show them all."

OMAROSA MANIGAULT:

Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald; whoever disagreed; whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

NARRATOR:

But neither Trump nor the birther issue were going to go away.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Back to this birther business for just a second—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Obama is an unknown man, may not be a citizen, surrounded by radicals, surrounded by terrorists—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

If Obama were such a shoo-in, Donald Trump would not have any jokes told about him on Saturday night at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—the copy of the new fake birth certificate. Now, we’ve looked at it, we’re going to go over why it’s fake, how it’s a composite—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Democrats are nursing a major midterm hangover—

MALE NEWSREADER:

No sense in sugarcoating last night’s election results—

NARRATOR:

Out in the country and in Washington—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Tuesday’s election was a game-changer—

NARRATOR:

—the divide was growing—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Republicans took control of the House and made gains—

NARRATOR:

—and in the midterms, angry Republicans rose up.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

It is repudiation of the president and his policies—

COKIE ROBERTS:

That is a very unhappy electorate—

MALE NEWSREADER:

The GOP gaining at least 58 seats.

NARRATOR:

Democrats lost control of the House.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Democrats of every stripe were voted out of office last night—

NARRATOR:

Obama called it "a shellacking."

MALE NEWSREADER:

The voters that went to the polls tonight sent a message to Barack Obama.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

I can tell you that some election nights are more fun than others; some are exhilarating, some are humbling.

JUDY WOODRUFF:

In 2010, it became an election very much about President Obama and about how his administration was much more liberal than what the country wanted or had voted for.

It was as if, "We’ve been betrayed. This is a president who’s going to take us off in a crazy, dangerous direction, and we can’t let that happen."

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

We won races in every corner of the nation, in such a broad and wide victory that the outcome is unprecedented.

NARRATOR:

Eighty-seven new Republicans joined what became known as "the Tea Party Congress."

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

The Tea Party movement has given life to the Republican Party.

STEVE SCHMIDT:

The Washington leadership of the Republican Party saw energy and enthusiasm amongst the grassroots, so the leaders sought to capitalize on the energy of that movement.

MALE SPEAKER:

—do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic—

NARRATOR:

The 87 were rebels who had run on changing Washington, but their first challenge was their own leader, the Washington insider John Boehner.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif.:

[Laughs] I now pass this gavel and the sacred trust that goes with it to the new speaker. God bless you, Speaker Boehner.

NARRATOR:

Boehner had a reputation as a dealmaker, someone willing to work with Democrats.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, Former speaker of the House:

I didn’t need to be speaker because I needed a fancy title or a big office. I wanted to be speaker so I could lead an effort to deal with the serious issues that are facing our country.

BEN RHODES:

Obama used to tell me, "John Boehner is just like the Republicans that I worked really well with in the Illinois State Senate, a Midwestern country club Republican. He’s not a racist; he’s a good and decent man." He has serious ideological differences with Obama, but they could get stuff done together, right?

JOHN BOEHNER:

I'll be working with the bipartisan congressional—

NARRATOR:

And Obama believed he knew just how to reach out to a country club Republican: golf.

JOHN BOEHNER:

Before the golf match started, I told the president, I said, "Mr. President, this is about golf, not anything else." And he and I were partners. We played well, and we won.

NARRATOR:

Obama had more than golf on his mind. He wanted to make a deal to solve the country’s fiscal problems.

JOHN BOEHNER:

And I suggested to the president, "Why don’t we have a conversation?" And he agreed.

NARRATOR:

But it would be dangerous for Boehner—the Tea Party faction was watching him.

They would have to meet in secret.

WILLIAM DALEY, Former Obama chief of staff:

Well, that was Boehner’s decision, not ours, obviously. It’s not every day that the speaker comes to see the president quietly and says, "I’m willing to do a deal," that everybody knows is going to be dangerous for him politically.

NARRATOR:

The speaker secretly entered the White House through a side entrance.

BEN RHODES:

Because it was so difficult for John Boehner to be seen as working with Barack Obama, he would be snuck in the back door of the White House. He’d come in on the weekends, or he’d come in at night, and kind of sneak the guy through and sit there with Obama and negotiate or have a drink, right?

NARRATOR:

They talked of a “grand bargain”—a once-in-a-generation deal to reduce the deficit.

Obama would agree to cut entitlements, Boehner to raise taxes.

MATT BAI:

The Republican leadership was willing to make a deal; John Boehner was willing to make a deal; and the president was able to get Democratic leaders in Congress to sign off on that deal.

NARRATOR:

But back at the Capitol, Boehner was confronted by resistance from his Tea Party members.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-Va., Former House majority leader:

The support for what was being discussed at the White House was not there in the Republican conference. There was no way that a majority of Republicans were going to support what the president was talking about. It just wasn’t going to happen.

MATT BAI:

It was absolutely scuttled by Boehner's own people. But the fact was, he couldn't get it done. He didn't have the strength or the conviction to have a fight about it in his own party, and it fell apart.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

It’s a bad idea for Speaker Boehner to meet alone with President Obama—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Tea Party Nation calling for John Boehner to step down—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—gentlemen, and the screw-up is the leadership in the House of Representatives. Rather than trashing conservatives—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Boehner’s a complete fraud. The "Tan Man" always claims to have the pulse of the American people.

BEN RHODES:

He never had any control over this caucus, and whenever he took anything back to his caucus, they just tore him apart and ate him alive. They would lose their minds. And so then we realize there is no grand bargain to be had with these people.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

I just got a call about a half-hour ago from Speaker Boehner. It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal, and frankly, I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, "Can they say 'yes' to anything? Can they say 'yes' to anything?" Thank you very much.

CHARLIE SYKES:

The Republicans were more than happy to take the votes of the Tea Party members and the Tea Party freshman class, but it changed the nature of the caucus in fundamental ways. You now had a hard group of congressmen and -women who were really not interested in governing. They were more interested in taking a stand and frustrated one legislative procedure after another.

ROBERT REICH:

The establishment part of the Republican Party didn't understand that by allying themselves with the Tea Party, they were in a sense writing their own death certificate, in a way that would lead to the takeover of the Republican Party by Donald Trump.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He has no one to blame but himself. I’m not going to do the waterworks of John Boehner—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

I want to salute the freedom fighters in the House of Representatives, and they’re not going to take John Boehner’s crap sitting down anymore.

SARAH PALIN:

—have gone along just to get along with President Obama, like Speaker Boehner. We need to thank them for their service and say, "OK, time for new energy."

TERRY MORAN:

Tonight on "Nightline." License to kill? It’s the shooting death that sparked an explosion of outrage.

Good evening, I’m Terry Moran. It’s the story that’s ignited fierce passions across the nation, as allegations of racism and miscarriage of justice tear apart a small Florida town.

NARRATOR:

For Obama, once again the issue of race.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Trayvon Martin was walking back from a convenience store when he was allegedly shot by a neighborhood watch captain—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Police have the gun, they’ve got the shooter, but they have not arrested him. The dead man’s grieving family wants to know, "Why not?"

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

President Obama, as the first African American president, had been very careful not to talk too much about race; it was frustrating to some African Americans.

Then Trayvon Martin is killed in Florida, and the country gasps. The country is really on edge.

WESLEY LOWERY, Author, "They Can't Kill Us All":

Here’s a teenager walking through the neighborhood where his father lives, committing no crime, bothering no one, who is followed, confronted and ends up in a physical altercation with a stranger where he ends up killed. And then the person who killed him is allowed to go home that day.

JELANI COBB:

The contradiction of this happening in the midst of a black presidency sharpened the irony and intensified the pain I think people felt around this.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

African Americans who had turned out in record numbers for him, who in some ways Obama owed his presidency to, felt as though he wasn’t saying enough about race.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, Author, "The Black Presidency":

People were pushing him—"Say something. Are you going to say anything? You’re a black man. A young black boy has been murdered by a guy who’s a hyped-up neighborhood watchman. Black America is traumatized by this."

Silence from the White House. Nothing. No leadership, no insight.

NARRATOR:

Finally—

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Good morning, everybody.

NARRATOR:

—nearly a month after the killing, the president was publicly confronted about it.

MALE REPORTER:

Can you comment on the Trayvon Martin case, sir?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. Thank you.

WESLEY LOWERY:

It showed and it underscored the complications and the difficulties of the first black president weighing in on issues of race; that by his very presence, by his very willingness to discuss, he himself was bringing the partisan guns to the fight. And suddenly an innocuous statement became deeply inflammatory to half of the country.

KEITH ABLOW:

If the president had a son he wouldn’t look anything like Trayvon Martin. He’d be wearing a blazer from his prep school. He’d be driving a Beemer.

DENEEN BORELLI:

We have a president who has frozen racial tension in our country instead of thawing racial tension.

NARRATOR:

It blew up on Fox.

DICK MORRIS:

The president’s goal is to heighten African American turnout by stoking a feeling of victimization in the African American community.

NARRATOR:

And it took off on an increasingly powerful new platform: Breitbart.

STEVE BANNON, Former chairman, Breitbart:

We were the blog, kind of, for the Tea Party. This Tea Party energy, you know, right after the financial collapse. We caught on with this kind of working-class, middle-class audience.

NARRATOR:

They were the voice of the populist outrage Sarah Palin had activated, running stories that stoked fear and division: black-on-black crime; Islamic terrorism; violence by immigrants; a culture under assault.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Hispanic and black thugs tend to attack Asians because they are high-achieving—

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Blacks are incapable for being responsible for themselves.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

White America, arm yourselves—

NARRATOR:

Breitbart’s comment sections became notorious gathering places for extreme viewpoints.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

The towel heads are taking over because we let them.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Gayness is a cancer on us all.

KURT BARDELLA, Former spokesman, Breitbart:

I mean, it reads like you’ve walked into a hate club gathering of some kind.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

How stupid are women? Let’s find out!

KURT BARDELLA:

They were appealing to the segment of the population that are racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic. Really, the worst among us. Creating this congregating space every day where people from that worldview can go and rally around one another to find content that validates their worldview. And I think that’s what they were building ultimately.

WESLEY LOWERY:

I think that there was a failure to appreciate the extent to which these online communities were forming and these online ecosystems were forming. That if you were someone who spent all day in your car listening to Rush Limbaugh and got home and watched Glenn Beck at night and then opened your Facebook page and saw a bunch of Breitbart links, it didn't really matter to you that The New York Times and The Washington Post had said that birtherism wasn't true. Didn't matter how many Pinocchios the fact check had gotten of Donald Trump's latest talk show appearance.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

There’s a story on Breitbart, "Republican National Committee Declares War"—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

This was provided to me by Breitbart—

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Breitbart breaking more stories in the past few years than most journalists, who like to dust off their awards on their shelves.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

They’re going to keep the race business alive, and it’s gonna prosper during the Obama administration, because that causes more chaos.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

They want to stir up racial hatred in the country, and you know what? I’m not afraid to talk about race. Let’s talk about it, let’s see—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President Obama is battling for his own second term—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—it is in such difficult shape right now—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President Obama’s approval ratings have hit an all-time low.

ANDERSON COOPER:

A different Obama out on the campaign trail today then we saw—

NARRATOR:

By the time he was running for reelection in 2012—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

A difficult road ahead for the president—

NARRATOR:

—the divisiveness was rampant.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Officially kicked off his reelection campaign this weekend—

NARRATOR:

He had dramatically dropped in the polls.

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Obama faces an uphill battle—

NARRATOR:

He was fighting to keep his job.

ANDERSON COOPER:

It was a much different President Obama out on the campaign trail today than we saw—

DAVID AXELROD:

We were in bad shape politically. Nate Silver wrote a piece on the cover of The New York Times Magazine and the headline was "Is Obama Toast?"

NARRATOR:

A very different Barack Obama headed out to do battle with the Republicans. It was not a campaign about unity.

DAVID AXELROD:

We knew that we had to run a very hard-edged reelection campaign that posited the president as someone who was battling for the middle class.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

If I said, "The sky was blue," they said, "No." If I said, "There were fish in the sea," they said, "No." They figured, "If Obama fails, then we win."

DAN BALZ:

President Obama decided we’re going to have an argument in 2012, we’re going to win that argument if we can and if we win it, we are then going to do what we want to do, or push in the directions we want to push.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

—because of their policies. The Republicans messed up so bad.

PETER BAKER:

He’s a more scarred president who has become himself frustrated by the way Washington works, no longer quite so believing in the idea that bipartisanship is possible.

It was a different message than it was in 2008. It was not a coming together message; it was not a "hope and change" message. It was a "stop the other guys" message.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

It’s the same agenda that they have been pushing for years.

NARRATOR:

As Obama attacked, Republicans were also at war—with themselves.

The establishment had gotten behind one of their own: wealthy businessman Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY:

Barack Obama has failed America. This country we love is in peril.

CROWD:

[Cheers] Yeah!

NARRATOR:

The Tea Party saw him as out of touch.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He verges on hysterical. Mitt Romney has never done a single thing to favor the conservative cause—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

I swear every time Mitt Romney opens his mouth, I have no—I think he’s running against me!

REP. RAÚL LABRADOR, R-Idaho, Tea Party Congress, 2011-19:

I don’t think that Romney was somebody who understood the angst of the American people.

He didn’t understand what—especially the Republicans, in—throughout the United States were feeling, how disaffected they felt.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

What does Mitt Romney believe?

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

And is he truly a conservative?

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Not exactly a person of conviction. Not even—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

What type of values does he actually believe in? What is his core?

NARRATOR:

Romney needed the Tea Party and its populist base.

Trying to win them over, he went to Las Vegas for an endorsement—from the man who put the birther movement on the map.

DAN BALZ:

Mitt Romney looks completely uncomfortable. Donald Trump is totally in his element. It’s—in a curious way, it’s Donald Trump’s event, not Mitt Romney’s event. He—you know, he commands the stage.

DONALD TRUMP:

It’s my honor, real honor, and privilege to endorse Mitt Romney.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

It was literally one of the most bizarre political scenes I’d ever seen.

DONALD TRUMP:

—and by the way, this is a great couple.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

Mitt and Ann Romney were standing up there, and I kept looking at Ann Romney, who looked like she was using every single bit of energy she had not to start cracking up uncontrollably.

At that moment, it seemed like, not unlike Sarah Palin four years earlier, kind of a comic diversion. Something that was different.

DONALD TRUMP:

So Gov. Romney, go out and get ’em. You can do it.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

It was hilarious; it was bizarre. In retrospect, I guess it represented some kind passing of the torch.

MITT ROMNEY:

There are some things that you just can’t imagine happening in your life. This is one of them. [Laughter] Being in Donald Trump’s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight. I’m so honored—

MARK LEIBOVICH:

It was a tacit endorsement in the other direction of Mitt Romney to the kind of rhetoric that Donald Trump was vociferous in trafficking in around Obama’s birth certificate, the perpetrator of a blatantly nativist campaign against the president of the United States.

NARRATOR:

But on election night at Romney headquarters in Boston there was no victory party.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Romney was the worst candidate.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He got his clocked cleaned.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Today I’m pissed off, and you should be, too! We're not going to give up—

NARRATOR:

Establishment Republicans were reeling.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—that much, especially when you look at the turnout—

NARRATOR:

And one particular Republican was making plans for the future.

MALE NEWSREADER:

There’s serious soul-searching going to happen in the Republican Party, and the—

MICHAEL KRANISH, Co-author, "Trump Revealed":

Donald Trump went to Boston, in fact, to be at the victory party that never occurred. He got on his plane, turned around, went back to New York City and he started tweeting.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweets]:

This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!

We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!

We should have a revolution in this country!

He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election.

NARRATOR:

It was an opening salvo in a campaign to capture the conservative base.

And just six days later, Trump signed this trademark application for the phrase "Make America Great Again."

ROGER STONE:

Right after Romney lost, we had a brief chat. "Can Hillary be beat? Who else is going to run?" He’s already handicapping. Romney’s body isn’t even cold yet and he’s already handicapping this election.

It was clear to me then he was going to run.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—the president of the United States has been reelected. Barack Obama wins—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—defeating Mitt Romney following an often nasty and costly election.

NARRATOR:

Obama’s coalition had prevailed.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Another four years for President Barack Obama—

NARRATOR:

Now he would test whether the election had consequences.

BEN RHODES:

Obama gets reelected, rather decisively. And, you know, he was hopeful that this fever would break. He kept saying, "Hopefully, this breaks the fever."

NARRATOR:

To win, Obama had energized Latino voters. Republican leaders had taken note.

Now the president hoped they might be willing to work with him on immigration reform.

CECILIA MUÑOZ, Former Obama adviser:

Everybody understood that there was an opening, a political opening, because Republicans were ready to come to the conversation. And so the president’s marching orders to his team were very clear: "This is a priority. I want to get it done."

FRANK LUNTZ:

The Republicans did a sobering study of where things stood, and they realized after 2012 that America’s changing and that if you wanted to win the White House—not just Congress—you had to appeal to younger voters, Latinos and women.

RNC document

MALE VOICE [reading Republican study]:

We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our party’s appeal will continue to shrink.

NARRATOR:

GOP power brokers like Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out the party’s problem.

ERIC CANTOR:

Too many millennials, minorities and others have rejected us at the polls because they sense that somehow we’re not inclusive. And unless we show the American people that conservative principles actually help them in a real and not just theory, we’ll never get the majority confidence back.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Today a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a plan that could—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Now, Republicans and Democrats set to announce a major compromise surrounding immigration.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—immigration is one of those issues that—

NARRATOR:

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was the face of bipartisan immigration reform.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-Fla.:

[Speaking Spanish] For me, immigration is not a new issue. It is a politically new issue, but in my life, I know it firsthand.

CECILIA MUÑOZ:

The political class was sure that immigration reform was going to be like falling off a log.

MARCO RUBIO:

[Speaking Spanish] My parents are immigrants. My grandparents were immigrants. My wife's family are immigrants. I live surrounded by immigrants.

NARRATOR:

Even on Fox News, support for the softer immigration approach.

CHARLIE SYKES:

And even people like Sean Hannity went on the air and said, "We need to rethink our position on immigration. I was wrong to take such a hard line on immigration."

SEAN HANNITY:

You create a pathway for those people that are here, you don’t say you gotta go home. And that is an—a position that I’ve evolved on.

NARRATOR:

Sean Hannity invited Obama’s nemesis and Fox regular on to his show, and even he seemed to favor immigration reform.

DONALD TRUMP:

I think it's getting very tough to win as a Republican. Look, they lost on immigration; they're going to have to do something on immigration because, you know, our country is a different place than it was 50 years ago. And so we’ll see what happens.

SEAN HANNITY:

Mr. Trump, always a pleasure.

DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you very much.

NARRATOR:

Obama’s wish in the aftermath of his reelection, that the fever would break, seemed like it might come true. But there was a new wrinkle.

BEN RHODES:

What was interesting is the fever broke among certain Republican elites, right?

The problem is that’s not where the Republican voters were or the majority of the Republican House caucus.

NARRATOR:

At Breitbart, the chairman, Steve Bannon, was sowing division, rallying the populist base against the Republican establishment.

STEVE BANNON:

I said, "Let’s attack the real enemy," and the real enemy's the Republican establishment. What we're going to do is just go after the House leadership; we're going to go after the Mitch McConnells; we're going to go after the donors. We're just going to go hard at kind of this Paul Ryan philosophy.

NARRATOR:

Bannon and Breitbart weaponized immigration against the establishment.

ALEX MARLOW:

We spent a lot more time talking to the public than we spent talking to the elite.

NARRATOR:

The issue lit up Breitbart’s already incendiary message boards.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Illegals kill 12-plus people a day in this country.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Torturous, murderous, rapists. This president calls them "Dreamers."

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Deport all of the illegal aliens!

ALEX MARLOW:

It is—potentially the threat of an open border is pretty catastrophic. Immigration to Republican voters, by a mile, it's the No. 1 issue, even ahead of tax cuts.

WESLEY LOWERY, The Washington Post:

This was some of the brilliance of Bannon. He recognized an anxiety that had been building in the heartland for years. The country itself felt like it was changing, and—are these people here illegally? Did they skip a step in line? Did they follow all the rules? Again, the economy, for so many Americans, has still been so frustrating. So all of this is happening while people have real questions about their own security.

NARRATOR:

Bannon decided it was time was for a show of force; to use immigration to take down a central figure in the Republican establishment.

JOSHUA GREEN, Author, "Devil's Bargain":

And when they looked around, the guy that they thought was most vulnerable was Eric Cantor, the House majority leader.

NARRATOR:

Cantor was up for reelection. Tea Party challenger Dave Brat was more than 30 points behind in the primary.

STEVE BANNON:

He definitely knew it was coming. I—that was also happened to be my home district, but I could feel it. I knew that a guy like Brat could—they were very weak.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Cantor, can you believe this guy? Can you believe Ryan?

NARRATOR:

Breitbart swung behind Brat.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Eric Cantor, he’s all-in for amnesty.

NARRATOR:

They set the agenda for right-wing radio.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

You’re a coward, Eric Cantor! You only—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Eric Cantor, who wants amnesty; Paul Ryan, who I called a phony from the get-go—

SAM NUNBERG:

Anything that became talking points on conservative radio were coming from Breitbart. And you had a transformation where conservative radio hosts weren’t clicking on Drudge Report on what to say, they were clicking on Breitbart.

NARRATOR:

It worked.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

History-making upset. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

This was a seismic shift that took all of the establishment figures by surprise.

NARRATOR:

Cantor’s defeat sent a message to Republicans.

MALE NEWSREADER:

People want a new Republican Party, with fresh faces—

NARRATOR:

Bipartisan immigration reform was dead.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat is the end of immigration reform.

REP. LUIS GUTIÉRREZ, D-Ill., 1993-2019:

I knew that night when I heard. I was talking to my Republican—they were basically, "There's no reason for us to talk anymore. This is not going anywhere."

REP. TIM HUELSKAMP, R-Kan., Tea Party Congress, 2011-17:

You can almost feel the Capitol shake. I’ve never seen so many people crying, with long faces, all upset, on Capitol Hill.

I mean, that’s I think the worst drubbing the establishment has had in many years.

ANN COULTER, Author, "Adios, America":

It was the elected Republicans and talk radio realizing that the people who vote for them and watch their media hated their guts. Absolutely hated their guts.

ALEX MARLOW:

It was clear that the voter base was throwing out the Republican establishment’s ideas on immigration. That's what that represented. And it was stunning. It was one of the biggest upsets in the history of American politics.

NARRATOR:

President Obama’s advisers understood what it meant.

BEN RHODES:

The second that Eric Cantor is defeated in that primary was the death knell of immigration reform and also was a signal that the Republican Party was no longer just kind of talking publicly about Obamacare and spending, and a little quietly to their base about immigration. This was going to become what the party was about, which is racially or ethnically fueled grievances with immigration at the center.

NARRATOR:

The divide was widening.

But outside of Washington, in Newtown, Connecticut, in one tragic event: shared national grief.

911 OPERATOR:

—location of your emergency?

FEMALE 911 CALLER:

Sandy Hook School. I think there’s somebody shooting in here.

MALE 911 CALLER:

My daughter's in that building!

MALE 911 CALLER:

Sandy Hook Elementary School, it's inside. I believe there’s shooting at the front!

FEMALE 911 CALLER:

Please hurry, please hurry!

MALE 911 CALLER:

Please—

FEMALE 911 CALLER:

I need assistance here immediately.

FEMALE 911 CALLER:

I still hear him shooting—

VALERIE JARRETT, Former Obama adviser:

Newtown was the worst moment of the presidency. It was unfathomable to imagine 20 children, 6- and 7-year-old first-graders, being gunned down in that violent and destructive way, and then six adults who were trying to help.

BEN RHODES:

I remember seeing Obama several times that day, and he was like—I’ve never seen him as much of an emotional wreck.

DAVID AXELROD:

I got an email from the president saying, "This is the first time that I cried in the Oval Office."

BEN RHODES:

I mean, he was just bursting into tears throughout the day.

DAVID AXELROD:

He always told me that if something happened to one of his kids, he didn’t think he could get out of bed. And here are all these beautiful young kids who were slaughtered, and he was sad, and he was irate.

BEN RHODES:

And he kept saying, "All—I don’t think I can talk about this publicly, because the second I start talking about those kids, I’m just going to be thinking about my kids."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.

As a country, we have been through this too many times. May God bless the memory of the victims, and in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

NARRATOR:

For Obama, Newtown was a test whether a tragedy could bring the country together around another contentious issue: gun control.

PETER BAKER:

He was so moved by what happened in Newtown, and he thought the country was as well, that this would be a chance to do something that Democrats would have loved to have done before but never thought was possible.

NARRATOR:

The president wanted gun legislation, but by now he had become so polarizing he told Vice President Joe Biden to take the lead.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

It was in a context of sorrow; extreme, I mean, anger and frustration about "Why can’t we do something about this?"

It was like, "Enough is enough is enough. Put together something for me, Joe."

NARRATOR:

Biden turned to Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey to draft it.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, American Enterprise Institute:

We have what looks to be a model of bipartisan action. And they propose a modest change in the gun laws, but one that would begin, at least, to turn an issue that had gone entirely in one direction in a somewhat different direction.

NARRATOR:

Public support was strong; Republicans were signing on.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

Everyone felt like the world was going to change. Everyone felt like this is going to be the mass shooting that makes America really look at its gun laws and change something.

JOE BIDEN:

I was optimistic. Over 91% of the American people supported expanding background checks; 80% of the households that had an NRA member supported it.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

I’ve had enough of all these people! All their talk, tough talk—

NARRATOR:

Then, the blowback.

Breitbart.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

That’s what the Democrats do folks.

NARRATOR:

Talk radio.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

They always try to hide their agendas behind women and children and, most of all, victims.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

They apparently don’t believe liberty’s on the line! They apparently don’t believe the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are on the line!

NARRATOR:

Fox News.

FOX NEWS REPORTER:

It’s about the ideology. It’s about stripping law-abiding American citizens from their legal right to have a gun.

SEAN HANNITY:

And they’re very eager to use whatever tragedy they can to advance their cause.

ANN COULTER:

Their gun laws are going to hurt the defense of the innocent.

ALEX JONES:

It’s got "inside job" all written all over it.

NARRATOR:

And on the fringes, outrageous conspiracy theories denying the shooting had actually happened.

ALEX JONES:

Sandy Hook is a synthetic—completely fake, with actors—in my view, manufactured.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

I have no faith in these people. None.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

You would think now, if ever, that a so-called conservative Republican in the Senate would have learned the lesson that this president cannot be relied on to follow the law! That this attorney general cannot be relied on to follow the law!

NARRATOR:

One by one, Obama watched key Republicans, and even some Democrats, back away from the bill.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Cutting deals over what? Over the Second Amendment? I despise these people! And the older I get, the more I despise them!

CHARLIE SYKES, Author, "How the Right Lost Its Mind":

Here was a moment where 80-90% of Americans, I think, would have supported some sort of a reasonable compromise about it, and yet nothing happened. So this is where you have the Republican Party held hostage by its base, and American politics held hostage by that Republican Party.

FEMALE VOICE:

Mr. Inhofe. Mr. Isakson. Mr. Lautenberg. Mr. Leahy. Mr. Lee. Mr. Wyden.

JOE BIDEN:

The amendment is not agreed to.

NARRATOR:

The bill fell five votes short.

JOE BIDEN:

"How could they vote that way? Don’t they understand what happened? How can they do that? How can this be?" I mean, it was disbelief and a sense of betrayal. That was the mood.

DAN BALZ:

It was an emotional setback for the president. It was a huge political setback for the president, and in some ways helped to set the tone, again, for what was going to come after, in other areas.

NARRATOR:

Obama invited the Newtown families to the White House.

MARK BARDEN, Parent of Sandy Hook victim:

Daniel was a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I know that he felt—he felt a sense of responsibility to us and to the nation and to that 90% of the country that wanted this. I think he felt a strong sense of responsibility toward that. And his disgust was palpable.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

It came down to politics. The worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections.

So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington. Thank you very much, everybody.

STEVE SCHMIDT:

Great presidents have been able to forge compromise. President Obama was not able to do that, and the reason may well be the implacability of the people sitting on the other side of the table from him. Sometimes you can’t get to "yes" with someone who won’t say anything other than "no."

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

We’re supposed to believe that if only these background checks were in place, all—Newtown wouldn’t have happened, none of this would have happened.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

There wasn’t one part of this bill that would have stopped what happened at that school.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

"Won’t you just turn your guns in for my son? Why’d you do it to him, gun owners?" Listen, I didn’t kill your kids!

MALE NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News world headquarters in New York, this is "NBC Nightly News" with Lester Holt.

LESTER HOLT:

There is growing outrage tonight after an unarmed African American teenager was shot and killed by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

St. Louis County Police have taken over the investigation of a shooting by a Ferguson police officer that left a teenager dead—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Witnesses say the teen was not armed and had his hands up in the air when the police officer fatally shot him. More than 100 officers, armed—

NARRATOR:

Once again, race would emerge and sow division.

JELANI COBB:

Ferguson becomes a tinderbox, explodes. People want an immediate reaction from Barack Obama and his administration.

FEMALE RADIO CALLER:

—he ain’t armed, he don't got no gun, they just killed him. His blood everywhere—

JELANI COBB:

Ferguson became a metaphor for this entire complex of relationships between black people and police and the criminal justice system.

And it becomes a kind of Rorschach test. Michael Brown is unarmed. He is fired upon by the police officer who says that he attacked him. There are varying eyewitness accounts that dispute that.

What is not in dispute is that his body lays on the street where he was shot, in the sweltering heat, for multiple hours.

CROWD:

What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Justice!

NARRATOR:

Night after night, the streets of Ferguson were a war zone.

The president remained silent.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

When Ferguson blew, it exploded his inability to grapple straightforwardly with the issue of race. He was contorted and tragically twisted when it came to Ferguson.

JELANI COBB:

The difficulty of this situation for Barack Obama is that it exposes him, again and again and again, to the most inflammatory thing about his presidency—with, you know, the beer summit and Skip Gates; with Trayvon Martin; and now with Ferguson—that he is brought, again and again, back to this third-rail issue of the disparities of race in this country.

NARRATOR:

Finally, after five days—

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Good afternoon, everybody.

NARRATOR:

—he went before the press.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.

NARRATOR:

He chose a cautious route.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

—we have to hold ourselves to high standard. So now’s the time for healing; now’s the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

He’s trying to thread this needle, and it feels as though both sides end up being disappointed by what he does.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Thanks very much, everybody.

DAVID REMNICK, Author, "The Bridge":

I was once interviewing Obama in the White House and I asked him a question about race. And his answer was unusually guarded, inconsequential and, for journalistic purposes, almost useless.

NARRATOR:

Later, as Remnick was leaving the interview, Obama stopped him in the hallway.

DAVID REMNICK:

He says to me, "You’ve got to remember, I am the president of the United States, I’m not the president of Black America. Everybody knows who I am because they look, they can see me. [Laughs] I’m black. But anything I say on race—anything I say on race—I have to be extremely careful and calibrated in what I say."

NARRATOR:

And as the anger in Ferguson grew out of control, on television Obama remained careful and calibrated.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

To those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively, and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively.

WESLEY LOWERY, Author, "They Can't Kill Us All":

The split screen was the line that showed his disconnect with America. On one side of the screen, you’re seeing the nation’s black president begging that a city do not go up in flames. And the other side of the screen, you’re seeing young black people saying, "We’re done waiting. We’re not putting up with this anymore."

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

We elect a black president and eight years later we have this? This black—

WESLEY LOWERY:

I remember talking to activists who said, "I voted for Barack Obama twice, and Trayvon Martin’s still dead. Michael Brown’s still dead." It was the sense that simply having representation, even at the highest levels, didn’t necessarily mean that these issues were going to be addressed.

BEN RHODES:

He was really frustrated. And we would talk, and he would just say, "Well, cops need to stop shooting unarmed black kids." That’s what he thought. But he also recognized and was very disciplined about the fact he was president of the United States.

NARRATOR:

The anger transcended Ferguson.

Online, Black Lives Matter emerged—activists connecting, sharing and uploading videos of police killings around the country.

MALE POLICE OFFICER:

Get down!

MALE VOICE:

I can record this s---! I can record it!

ERIC GARNER:

I can't breathe!

MALE POLICE OFFICER:

Get out of the car!

MALE VOICE:

Get that gun up in the air!

FEMALE VOICE:

Shots fired!

FEMALE VOICE:

Oh, my God!

WESLEY LOWERY:

And within moments the entire world could see it. And it forced white Americans to see things that their eyes never would have seen.

PROTESTERS:

Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

NARRATOR:

Across the divide, the blowback.

BILL O’REILLY:

They hate police officers.

JUAN WILLIAMS:

Well, they have strong feelings about—

BILL O’REILLY:

No, they hate them, they want them dead. They’re a hate group, and I’m going to tell you right now, I’m gonna put them out of business.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE:

Their agenda is, "It’s OK to go ahead and kill cops."

JUAN WILLIAMS:

No, nobody said that. They never said that.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE:

Oh, really? "Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon"?

JUAN WILLIAMS:

That's language—I'll tell you what—

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE:

When they act like that, they are criminals—

JUAN WILLIAMS:

Let me just say—

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE:

—and they’re calling for the murder of hardworking police officers.

JUAN WILLIAMS:

I don’t believe that.

DAVID CLARKE, Former sheriff:

We now have to counter this slime, this filth coming out of these cop-haters.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

A Black Lives Matter protest shut down traffic in Frederick, Maryland—

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Black Lives Matter is just a complete fraud.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Are you going to riot, loot, roast more pigs? What?

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Absolutely unbelievable! All lives matter!

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

See, to me, dividing lives that matter by color sounds downright racist. No.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Republicans tore it up at the polls. Historic midterm election victory, taking control of the Senate.

NARRATOR:

Fall 2014. Republicans had captured the Senate and now held both houses of Congress.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—a wave of voter frustration has all but washed off the Democrats—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Republicans beat the Democrats in states that were both blue and red, including many states that President Obama won—

SHAILAGH MURRAY, Former Obama adviser:

All was lost. It was our darkest moment. We found ourselves alone in the world. The Congress [Laughs] had gone in a different direction and we weren’t sure if we’d ever get them back on anything.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The mood of the country was nasty, and the country took most of it out on Barack Obama—

JUDY WOODRUFF:

President Obama was heading into a place where he was going to be opposed by Congress, by the Republican majorities in Congress, over virtually everything he tried to do. And I think the handwriting was on the wall that his presidency was going to come to an end with really bitter split between the two political parties, like nothing we had ever seen.

NARRATOR:

Over six years, the promise of hope, change, bipartisanship had been confronted by fear, anger, division.

BEN RHODES:

Barack Obama said he would try to bridge these divides. He couldn’t. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I mean, just the fact that it was six years before he really just said, "I’m going to stop trying."

NARRATOR:

He would go around the Republican Congress—go his own way.

DAN BALZ:

The president is saying, "I'm going to do what I am able to do with the tools available to me. I'm never going to get from a Republican Congress much progress on the things I think are very important."

DAVID AXELROD:

He wasn't satisfied to sit there and have people play "Hail to the Chief" when he walked in the room. And he was determined that he was going to use every bit of power that he could legitimately claim.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

My fellow Americans, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as president. Tonight, I'm announcing those actions.

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Obama signed a landmark climate change deal on his final trip to China today.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Breaking right now, executive action on gun control—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—changed the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants, but the move bypasses Congress.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President Obama says the Keystone XL pipeline project is dead.

NARRATOR:

Obama’s actions energized his supporters but provoked outrage on the other side.

MEGYN KELLY:

He couldn’t get anything through Congress, true. But the congresspeople represent the American public.

What did Obama do? "I take out my pen and my phone." That’s what he kept saying, "I’m going to take out my pen and my phone, and I’m going to do an end around Congress." Meaning, "you people"! "I’m going to do an end around you, the American public."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

I’ve got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won’t, and I’ve got telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission.

STEVE BANNON:

He gets shellacked, he loses the Senate, he shows back up, he gets smoked, he calls a press conference and all—CNN, and everybody, New York Times, is he going to listen to what the people say? Is the country going in a different direction? Is Obama gonna listen? He gets up there and goes, "OK, guys, here’s how it is. I’m president of the United States and you’re not." [Laughs] He goes, "Here’s 10 executive orders I’m going to sign immediately."

I’m sitting there going, "This guy’s my role model." I said, "He just got smoked and he comes out and hits you right in the mouth. This is a leader!"

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

The Constitution is going to cease to exist as we know it.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Obama is going to start shooting a BB gun at it.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Where does this end? Does it ever end? At what point do we roll back this homegrown tyranny?

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

—executive order. What they are really are are imperial fiats. This is what we have to fear.

DONALD TRUMP:

Now he has to use executive action, and this is a very, very dangerous thing. I mean, I think certainly he could be impeached.

Good morning. Everybody’s saying I should run for president.

Let me ask you a question. Meat Loaf, should I run for president?

MEAT LOAF:

Absolutely!

DONALD TRUMP:

Now, you would definitely vote for me?

MEAT LOAF:

I would vote for you. In fact, I’ll help you with your campaign!

DONALD TRUMP:

What do you think?

NARRATOR:

It was Donald Trump’s moment.

DONALD TRUMP:

Who would not vote for me?

NARRATOR:

The reality TV star was making his move.

DONALD TRUMP:

All right, good.

IVANKA TRUMP:

A hot hint: Don’t raise your hand. [Laughter]

DONALD TRUMP:

I would say anybody that raised their hand would immediately be fired because they’re stupid.

MEGYN KELLY:

Trump is a showman. This is TV gold, right? Who would not watch this? He’s interesting, and he’s dynamic, and he knows how to work the cameras. And he’s been the No. 1 show on NBC for all these years for a reason.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Another political story making news this morning, Donald Trump’s growing poll numbers on a list of possible presidential candidates—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump’s serious about a run for the White House. Will his—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—Trump, who may run for president in the Republican primaries.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO, Trump biographer:

Donald actually told me in 2013 that he was going to run for president, and I thought he was kidding. And then he argued that it was based on his Twitter feed and Facebook posts—that so many people were posting on social media that he should run that he thought maybe he should.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

As promised, Donald Trump speaking now in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Let’s listen.

DONALD TRUMP:

You ready? You get ready. Whenever you're ready, I’m OK.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, Former Trump political adviser:

When he says to me, "My effective television career, me as a television star, is over. I’m running for president," I laughed. Looked right in his face, I laughed.

And then he proceeded to tell me that he had a base of operations built in the Trump Tower. That he had hired Roger Stone and Sam Nunberg and Corey Lewandowski.

ROGER STONE:

You had a perfect storm. In almost 40 years in American politics, I’ve never seen the voters in this bad a mood. They were sour; very suspicious of political institutions, whether it’s Congress, whether it’s the two parties.

NARRATOR:

Trump had used the birther movement and now seized another hot-button issue for the conservative base, immigration.

A top aide, Sam Nunberg, helped him package it.

JOSHUA GREEN:

Nunberg had realized that this issue of immigration has real salience with Republican voters. The problem they had was they couldn’t get Trump to stay on topic. Famously short attention span. And so Sam Nunberg came up with this idea, essentially a mnemonic device to keep Trump focused on the issue of immigration.

SAM NUNBERG:

So I said, "Well, why don’t we say you’re going to build a wall, because it’s bigger. You’re going to build a wall, and you’ll get Mexico to pay for it."

January 24, 2015

Des Moines, IA

NARRATOR:

Trump took it on the road, testing out different versions of the line.

DONALD TRUMP:

We have to build a fence. And it's got to be a beauty. Who can build better than Trump? I build; it's what I do.

SAM NUNBERG:

He said it in Iowa that day, and the crowd went nuts. You can watch it. The crowd went nuts.

February 27, 2015

CPAC

DONALD TRUMP:

If I run, I will tell you, the king of building buildings, the king of building walls, nobody can build them like Trump, that I can promise you. I can promise you that.

SAM NUNBERG:

He said to me, "You know what? I’m talking about immigration. I feel it. Sam, this is a movement. This is a movement. They get it. They get it."

NARRATOR:

Obama had promised unity, but as Trump announced his intention to run, it was clear his candidacy would be about exploiting division.

BEN RHODES:

If you look at Sarah Palin talking to real Americans; the Tea Party talking about taking the country back; the birther movement itself that launched Trump; by the time he came down that escalator, he was the obvious Republican front-runner. He was the guy saying the same thing that they’d all been saying on Fox and on talk radio and on Breitbart for the last 6 1/2 years.

DONALD TRUMP:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they‘re bringing those problems with us.

STEVE BANNON:

When he starts doing the over-the-top stuff, and I go—I said, "You watch. They’re going to bite hard, and they’re going to bite hard and blow this up."

DONALD TRUMP:

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

STEVE BANNON:

Oh, my God. I said, "This is—" I said, "He’s just buried every—they’re going to go nuts. CNN is literally going to broadcast 24 hours a day."

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump’s comment about Mexican immigrants has created controversy nationwide.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump’s comments have triggered outrage.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump not backing down from his controversial, some say racist, language—

ANN COULTER:

I was waiting for Trump to take it back and say, "Oh, no, no, I didn’t mean that Mexico’s sending rapists; they’re sending Rhodes scholars! They’re so much better than we are!" And damned if he never took it back! So I had to say, "OK, I’m for this guy."

...three days later

BILL MAHER:

Ann, which Republican candidate has the best chance of winning the general election?

ANN COULTER:

Of the declared ones right now, Donald Trump!

STUDIO AUDIENCE:

[Laughter]

STEVE BANNON:

I said, "This is our guy. He’s a very imperfect instrument, but he’s a armor-piercing shell." I tell the guys, "He’s going to go through this thing like a scythe through grass."

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

I’ll tell you what I like about him. He doesn’t take any crap from Obama.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He is the leader right now of the entire conservative movement in America, maybe in the world—

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Donald Trump has changed the entire debate on immigration.

FEMALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He might be blunt, he might be inartful at times, but he is channeling the viewpoint of I would say the majority of Republican voters—

MALE POLICE OFFICER:

I copy. Several victims regarding that active shooter. Give me at least four medic units, plus two supervisors.

FEMALE POLICE DISPATCHER:

All units responding, 110 Calhoun St.

MALE NEWSREADER:

We have breaking news. Police and emergency responders are on the scene of what police confirm is a shooting inside a church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Dispatchers tell—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Nine people are dead, and there’s a massive manhunt underway.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The shooting happened at the historic Emanuel AME Church. The pastor, a South Carolina—

DAVID AXELROD:

Charleston represented a lot of things coming together. It was race, it was guns. And it was the great divide.

NARRATOR:

Eight African American parishioners and their minister, murdered in a church by a white supremacist.

They found the shooter’s journal.

MALE VOICE [reading journal entry]:

The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black-on-white murders got ignored?

JELANI COBB:

He is driven to violence by the fact that—he says this. He says that black people are taking over the world. Rev. Pinckney was dead, in large measure, because Barack Obama was the president.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

That massacre in South Carolina let Obama finally know that "black Americans are the proxies for me." And I think that he was aware of the fact that he had to address this. He could no longer avoid this; that this was something that we as a nation must grapple with.

NARRATOR:

He would head for Charleston and the collective grief at the memorial service.

PETER BAKER:

He told Valerie Jarrett on the way down he was thinking about singing "Amazing Grace."

VALERIE JARRETT:

He mentioned it to me and to the first lady and he said, "There’s a moment in my eulogy where I think I might sing." And I had said, "Don’t sing, don’t sing." And he goes, "I think I’m going to sing."

BEN RHODES:

He'd built this speech around this concept of grace. And he said, "Maybe I'll sing ‘Amazing Grace.'"

WESLEY LOWERY:

Here was a moment where the nation needed its president. And for one of the first times in the nation’s history, the president was completely prepared to provide the comfort needed to black Americans.

MALE MINISTER:

—that the president of the United States of America, the honorable Barack Obama, will come at this time with the eulogy.

NARRATOR:

Obama would speak about race in a way he never had as president.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches. Not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress; an act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion; an act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation's original sin.

JUDY WOODRUFF:

The shooting in Charleston was a moment for him to show the fullness of his feelings, of his emotions and his identification with his community. And to speak for them in a way that he probably hadn’t done in his presidency.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for He has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.

If we can tap that grace, everything can change. Amazing grace. Amazing grace.

VALERIE JARRETT:

He paused, and I remember thinking, "Is he thinking, ‘Am I going to sing or am I not going to sing?’"

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

[Sings] Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.

BEN RHODES:

It was like in those notes of "Amazing Grace," the entire history of the Obama presidency—all the adversity he’d faced, all the opposition he’d faced, everything he’d repressed—was coming out.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Clementa Pinckney found that grace! Cynthia Hurd found that grace! Susie Jackson found that grace! Ethel Lance found that grace! DePayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace! Tywanza Sanders found that grace! Daniel L. Simmons Sr. found that grace! Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace! Myra Thompson found that grace!

BEN RHODES:

I remember just sitting there and sobbing at my desk, in a way that I never did, because it was like he’s finally being his complete self in full view of the country.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

May grace now lead them home. May God continue to shed His grace on the United States of America.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

Having a black president has no effect, no effect, on what’s going on in some of our cities, zero.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

You know they’re ramping it up in the 2016 election. Every speech they’ve given has fanned the flames of racial enmity.

MALE TALK RADIO VOICE:

He’s not the man of compassion and empathy that he claims to be.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The race is well underway, with a new Republican candidate—

MALE NEWSREADER:

You know the race for president is underway when Donald Trump begins—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—Trump campaign blitz in Iowa, promising a "big special announcement."

MALE NEWSREADER:

Well, he says there will be a big announcement at the last event—

NARRATOR:

Early days on the campaign trail, Trump had plenty of money and celebrity. He wanted one more thing.

DONALD TRUMP:

Gov. Sarah Palin. Special, special person. Thank you.

SARAH PALIN:

Thank you so much! It’s so great to be in Iowa! We’re here just thawin’ out, lending our support for the next president of our great United States of America, Donald J. Trump.

DAN BALZ:

For her to endorse Donald Trump was a way for her to say—

SARAH PALIN:

—heads are spinnin'. Media heads are spinnin'. This is going to be so much fun—

DAN BALZ:

—"He is doing the kinds of things I had wanted to do. He is saying the kinds of things I wanted to say." But I think most important was, "His constituency and my constituency are one and the same."

SARAH PALIN:

Being here tonight, supporting the right man who will allow you to make America great again, God bless you, God bless the United States of America and our next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!

MALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump is running against the establishment—

MALE NEWSREADER:

The Republican party better pay attention—

FRANK LUNTZ:

If you wanted the exact opposite of Barack Obama, it’s Donald Trump.

Obama was cool; Trump is hot. Obama was cerebral and laid back; Trump is rough and in your face. Obama is Mr. Teleprompter; Donald Trump is a no card and no limits, no boundaries, no editing.

DONALD TRUMP:

Obama is a tremendous divider.

You can’t get much worse here. He’s been a great, great divider.

I think President Obama has been the most ignorant president in our history.

He will go down as one of the worst presidents in the history of our country—it is a mess.

ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS!

PETER BAKER:

He just couldn’t believe that the Republican Party would nominate Trump. The idea that the American public would elect, twice, Barack Obama, first African American president in history, and then turn around and pick Donald Trump, who played to racial resentments and anxiety, it just didn’t compute for President Obama; it just didn’t make any sense to him. He couldn’t imagine it.

BEN RHODES:

He looks at me and he says, "You know, what if we were wrong?" He's like, "You know, what if people just want to fall back into their tribe? What if people’s identity, their kind of sense of racial or ethnic identity, is just more powerful?"

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

We just have to be honest: It has been difficult to find agreement over the last seven years.

NARRATOR:

In his final State of the Union address, he said it out loud.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency: that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.

JUDY WOODRUFF:

Along the way, President Obama tried to do things that didn’t sit well with a chunk of the American electorate. We saw the rise of the Tea Party; you had the birther movement.

It all became angry. It became this sort of angry stew that dissolved into disagreement and worse, division.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise, or when even basic facts are contested, or when we listen only to those who agree with us.

TOM DASCHLE, D-S.D., Former Senate majority leader:

He meant and he really, truly believed that he could bring about meaningful change in discourse and attitude in the politics of politicization. He became enormously frustrated, enormously discouraged, enormously pessimistic about his prospects for doing just that over the course of his eight years. So while he started filled with hope and filled with this enormous desire and determination to do just that, he acknowledged defeat; he acknowledged his collapse, his inability to bring his country together, and that was deeply disappointing.

NARRATOR:

He left with a warning.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

There will be voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background. We can’t afford to go down that path. It contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.

AMERICA'S GREAT DIVIDE (PART 2)

This program contains mature content which may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

October 6, 1980

RONA BARRETT:

For some people, the ultimate goal in life has been becoming the president of the United States.

Would you like to be the president of the United States?

DONALD TRUMP:

I really don’t believe I would, Rona. But I would like to see somebody as the president who could do the job.

RONA BARRETT:

Why wouldn’t someone like yourself run for political office? You have all the money that you possibly need. You’ve accomplished a great deal even though you are only 34. Why wouldn’t you dedicate yourself to public service?

DONALD TRUMP:

Because I think it’s a very mean life. I would love, and I would dedicate my life to this country, but I see it as being a mean life. And I also see it that somebody with strong views, and somebody with the kind of views that are maybe a little bit unpopular—which may be right, but may be unpopular—wouldn’t necessarily have a chance of getting elected against somebody with no great brain but a big smile. And that’s a sad commentary for the political process.

NARRATOR:

Over the decades, as Donald Trump watched and waited, the prospect of becoming president would grow, just as the nation was becoming more and more divided.

BILL CLINTON:

It is time to heal America.

RONALD BROWNSTEIN, Author, "The Second Civil War":

Bill Clinton ran against brain-dead politics in both parties.

GEORGE W. BUSH:

And a leader must be a uniter, not a divider.

RONALD BROWNSTEIN:

George W. Bush said he was a uniter, not a divider.

BARACK OBAMA:

We are and always will be the United States of America.

RONALD BROWNSTEIN:

Barack Obama was introduced to the country saying, "There is not a blue America and a red America."

And each of them, by the end of their presidency, the country was more divided than when they took office.

NARRATOR:

It was in that division that Trump saw his moment.

DAVID AXELROD, Former Obama chief strategist:

He was looking for an opportunity, and his opportunity was division. His opportunity was mining resentment, weaponize race. And that's what he did.

ROGER STONE, Former Trump political adviser:

This is a classic case of the time being right for a Trump candidacy. Now you have a level of dissatisfaction with the voters that we've never seen before, and they want somebody with the toughness and the independence. And nobody can bully him—he’s viewed by voters as his own man who will tell it like it is whether it’s politically correct or not.

DONALD TRUMP:

I am your voice!

NARRATOR:

An age of unprecedented anger—

PROTESTER:

Go [expletive] cook my burrito, b----!

NARRATOR:

Resentment—

CROWD:

Shame! Shame!

NARRATOR:

Political conflict—

CROWD:

No ban! No wall!

NARRATOR:

Polarization—

CROWD:

Jews will not replace us!

NARRATOR:

—had arrived.

CROWD:

Be strong! Impeach Trump!

NARRATOR:

And with it, Donald Trump—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Crazed lunatics, the Democrats—

NARRATOR:

—ready and willing to stoke America’s great divide.

CROWD:

Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!

2015 GOP Debate

MEGYN KELLY:

The biggest event to date in Campaign 2016.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—top 10 candidates taking the stage for a prime-time showdown.

MALE DEBATE ANNOUNCER:

Businessman Donald Trump.

MEGYN KELLY, Former anchor, Fox News:

I had my research assistant research all the candidates who were going to be on stage that night—

It is 9 p.m. on the East Coast, and the moment of truth has arrived.

—and pull anything interesting or controversial about them, right?

Everybody had a binder like this, and Trump had a binder like this, right? [Laughs]

NARRATOR:

At the time, Megyn Kelly was a star on Fox News.

MEGYN KELLY:

Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular when it comes to women.

You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, [Laughter] dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account has several—

DONALD TRUMP:

Only Rosie O’Donnell.

DEBATE AUDIENCE:

[Cheers and laughter]

MEGYN KELLY:

No, it wasn’t.

He knew I was going to hit him on something, and he guessed it would be women, and he got some line worked up. Fine. We forged forward. The convention center was laughing. But I was going to get through the rest of my question.

For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.

DONALD TRUMP:

Yes, I'm sure it was.

MEGYN KELLY:

Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. [Laughter] Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?

DONALD TRUMP:

What I say is what I say. And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me, but I wouldn’t do that.

MEGYN KELLY:

The way Trump sees media, the way he sees life, is all, "They like me or they don’t like me."

DONALD TRUMP:

We need strength—

MEGYN KELLY:

And in that moment I got moved from the "She likes me" category into the "She doesn’t like me." And I do believe—I believe that night, the anger was real; his anger at me was real that night.

MEGYN KELLY:

Thank you all very much. And that will do it for the first Republican primary debate night of the 2016 presidential race. Our thanks to the candidates.

NARRATOR:

In his clash with Kelly, Trump was creating conflict just as he’d done as a reality TV star.

And afterwards, in “spin alley,” he would use the press to keep it going.

MARK LEIBOVICH, The New York Times Magazine:

Donald Trump shows up as if he needed this hit of adrenaline before he went home to New York.

DONALD TRUMP:

You guys OK? Don’t hurt yourselves.

GABRIEL SHERMAN, New York Magazine, 2008-17:

It was like mosquitos to a lantern on a summer night. I mean, the entire national press corps descended.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

People were being trampled and camera equipment was flying all over the place, and I’d never seen a scene like this. I mean, I’ve seen many media stampedes, but nothing like that.

MALE REPORTER:

What’s you history with Megyn?

DONALD TRUMP:

I think Megyn—I think Megyn behaved very badly, personally.

MALE REPORTER:

The question about women. You didn’t like that?

DONALD TRUMP:

No. I thought it was an unfair question. They didn’t ask those questions of anybody else, and I thought it was an unfair question. But you know what—

NARRATOR:

It was just the beginning.

MALE REPORTER:

Are you going to call Roger Ailes about it?

NARRATOR:

At 3:40 in the morning, he lit up Twitter.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

Wow, Megyn Kelly really bombed tonight. People are going wild on Twitter! Funny to watch.

MALE CNN ANNOUNCER:

This is CNN breaking news—

NARRATOR:

On the phone with CNN, he went farther.

DON LEMON:

What is it with you and Megyn Kelly?

DONALD TRUMP:

She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her—wherever. But—

MEGYN KELLY:

Trump recognized that it was a good storyline, and he kept fuel going under that fire, because he knew some portion of his audience loved to see him challenging a powerful woman, never mind a woman at Fox.

And so he accurately deduced that this would drive his numbers up with some segment of his base.

NARRATOR:

Trump had a powerful ally in the attack on Kelly: the right-wing website Breitbart and its leader, Steve Bannon.

STEVE BANNON, Former chairman, Breitbart:

Fox has chosen a side. It’s so evident in that debate that they’re there to kneecap Donald Trump, OK? They’re there to take him out. And that’s when we go, OK. We run 20 stories on Megyn Kelly. I get Tony Lee and Matt Boyle, my two hammers. They go right after Megyn Kelly. We’re going to Alinsky her, right? We’re going to cut her out from the—cull her out from the herd and just hit her nonstop. That’s when all war broke out. That’s when Breitbart—that’s when you had to choose sides.

NARRATOR:

In taking on Fox, Bannon and Trump were inciting the kind of conflict Breitbart’s readers thrived on.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

She is a low-life [expletive]. Everyone stop watching Fox altogether.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

We need to chop her off at the knees. Do not watch the troll next week, period.

STEVE BANNON:

If you looked at our comments section, [Laughs] these things were getting 10,000 to 15,000, 20,000 comments.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Megyn’s the type for a quickie in the men’s room.

STEVE BANNON:

The whole Trump, all the Pepes, all these Trump guys were pounding in here.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Megyn Kelly needs to be put in her place, fast and hard. By all of us. It’s why we like Trump to begin with!

MEGYN KELLY:

It was scary at times. And Breitbart kept lighting the fire, over and over. And you know, I had, and have, three young kids, really young kids, and the security threats were escalating. And we were doing everything in our power to convey to them that they needed to stop. It was one debate question, just one debate question! And he handled it fine! You know, he did. So get off of it! They couldn’t have cared less.

NARRATOR:

Roger Ailes ran Fox News. Ruthless and powerful, Ailes was a force to be reckoned with.

STEVE BANNON:

Ailes calls me up and says, "You’ve got to knock off these stories. She’s crying; she’s all upset. She’s getting death threats." I go, "Sounds like a personal problem." I said, "We’re not backing off. We’re going to put more stories up tomorrow."

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

If Kelly can’t take the heat, go back to the kitchen.

MALE VOICE [reading Breitbart comment]:

Trump should commission a statue of Ms. Kelly on her knees and place it in front of Trump Tower.

NARRATOR:

Under the onslaught, Ailes eventually backed down. He needed Breitbart, Bannon and Trump more than he needed Kelly.

MEGYN KELLY:

Roger definitely felt that he had to keep that sort of Breitbart wing of the viewership onboard; that they were at risk thanks to Trump’s attacks on me and Fox in the wake of that debate. And he definitely wasn’t going to lose 30% of the viewers as this man, who by August of 2015, we knew was the likely Republican nominee. He didn’t want that guy to be driving a division between Roger and the viewers.

NARRATOR:

Trump had won.

And it was a sign of what was to come—brutal, divisive, anything goes.

STEVE SCHMIDT, Former GOP strategist:

What Republican voters were looking for was strength. And in that moment, here's what voters saw.

They saw a generation of Republican politicians who kowtowed to Fox News, who genuflected. Then they saw somebody take on Fox News, and Trump won. He broke Fox News. In the steel cage death match of Republican politics in that instant, Donald Trump became king.

NARRATOR:

But across the political divide—

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

For comedians, Donald Trump has been the gift that keeps giving, but for everyone else, he’s the gift that keeps on giving women the creeps. [Laughter]

NARRATOR:

From the coastal entertainment capitals—

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

I know everyone’s all up in arms about comments I made about Megyn Kelly. I was not referring to hormones or menstruation, period! [Laughter]

NARRATOR:

A kind of resistance by ridicule.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Come on, Trump, if you’re going to say something offensive, just come out and say it. [Laughter]

NARRATOR:

Trump as a punchline.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Trump insults more women by 6:00 a.m. than most people do all year, [Laughter] but the reason—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump is back on the road campaigning in Iowa—

MALE NEWSREADER:

So far Trump’s political campaign—

NARRATOR:

As Donald Trump embarked on his presidential campaign, he doubled down on what his opponents found offensive.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Trump leads the field at 18—

NARRATOR:

He exploited simmering divisions to fuel his political rise.

ROBERT COSTA, Moderator, "Washington Week":

Trump has told me that he believes the country was already divided; that if he is just confrontational and a fighter, that people who feel aggrieved in the country will rally to him. It’s an entirely unconventional approach to the presidency, to rally your own base and to not really try to unite the country.

NARRATOR:

And in arena after arena, Trump cultivated his growing populist base.

SAM NUNBERG, Former Trump campaign adviser:

He loves the energy and he loves the adoration that he gets from those rallies. It’s a critical tool for him, these rallies, to keep that connection.

NARRATOR:

He called them "the forgotten."

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, Former Trump campaign adviser:

The iconic forgotten man or the forgotten man and woman is somebody that’s been left out of the system. There’s a rejection of elitists and a rejection of intellectuals and certainly a disdain for the media, because those people feel that they’re being looked down upon.

CROWD:

Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!

NARRATOR:

Trump sensed what the crowds wanted.

DONALD TRUMP:

We’re going to have such a strong military that nobody, nobody is going to mess with us. Nobody!

NARRATOR:

Anger—

DONALD TRUMP:

We are led by very stupid people.

NARRATOR:

Confrontation—

DONALD TRUMP:

We can’t beat ISIS—give me a break.

MATT BAI, Author, "The Argument":

He loves to arouse passion and emotions; it’s the thing he’s best at; it’s the thing he cares most about, is sort of provoking emotion.

And all the fire he was getting from the crowds was about immigration.

DONALD TRUMP:

We’re going to drive the cars over the illegals! Build the wall! Build the wall!

CROWD:

Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!

WESLEY LOWERY, The Washington Post:

It spoke to real worries and frustrations that had been coaxed and had caramelized over the course of a decade across America, where white Americans were truly convinced they were losing their country, and the only opportunity they had to stop it was to elect this man who says he was going to do something about it.

CROWD:

Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!

DONALD TRUMP:

We are going to start winning big leagues.

MEGYN KELLY:

Trump sounded like them. There was an authenticity to him that I think they connected with. He would drop an F-bomb; he said the P-word on the air about Ted Cruz one time! I was in Iowa, like, "Oh, my God, did he just say that rhymes with 'wussy'?" [Laughs] I mean, this happened, right? And I think there’s a swath of the American public that—look, it’s not like they love vulgarity. But they just loved what they felt was his authenticity and his willingness to throw a punch, which they felt was on their behalf.

CROWD:

Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!

NARRATOR:

He spoke directly to their resentment at Washington, at the elites. Us versus them.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI:

He saw what that forgotten man and woman was going through in the United States right now. "I’m the avatar of your anger. If you elect me, I’ll literally be an orange wrecking ball at the barricade known as the swamp, and I’ll knock that barricade down for you."

DONALD TRUMP:

But I want the cameras to span the room. Go ahead, fellas. Watch, they don’t turn them. They don’t turn them. They don’t turn them. Go ahead, turn them. Look, turn the camera, go ahead. Turn the camera, ma’am, turn the camera. You with the blonde hair, turn the camera, show the room, go ahead. They don’t turn 'em. What about—hey, you in the center, why don’t you turn your camera? Show them how many people come to these rallies. Turn 'em. Go ahead, turn 'em. Go ahead.

JUDY WOODRUFF, Anchor, "PBS NewsHour":

Cable news was so fascinated with Donald Trump that they were putting him on the air almost every day. Every one of his rallies made great television, and the news media jumped on that and gave him a lot of airtime.

DONALD TRUMP:

And you know we’re in—look at all those live television feeds. It’s always tough. Every time I speak they put me on live television, so I have to make different speeches. These guys go around, they make the same speech hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, nobody cares. It’s true! It’s true.

MARC FISHER, Co-author, "Trump Revealed":

He was looking out at the camera bank and he could see the red light on the camera, and that meant that he was live on CNN—

DONALD TRUMP:

You have CNN live, you’ve got them all, and—

MARC FISHER:

—or Fox or one of the other networks. And he said that what he tried to do in those rallies was say whatever it took to keep the red light on.

DONALD TRUMP:

Now if you like the media, give them a big hand, and if you don’t, give them a big boo. [Boos] I had a feeling.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, TV critic, The New York Times:

Donald Trump running for president is a plane that crashes every day. There is news as long as he’s talking. There’s news even if he isn’t talking, because who knows what he might say?

WOLF BLITZER:

Once again, we’re still awaiting Donald Trump’s arrival at this South Carolina rally—

JAMES PONIEWOZIK:

And so you have things like CNN just showing the empty podium where he’s ready to get on stage.

ERIN BURNETT:

Breaking news, we are awaiting Donald Trump. He will speak live any moment—

JAMES PONIEWOZIK:

That empty podium is now news—

WOLF BLITZER:

Stand by. You’re going to hear Donald Trump live—

JAMES PONIEWOZIK:

—because it tells you, if you wait long enough, something crazy might happen again.

FEMALE CNN NEWSREADER:

We're awaiting Donald Trump to take the stage. This is out of Tampa, Florida—

FEMALE CNN NEWSREADER:

Breaking news, Donald Trump about to rally thousands of supporters—

FEMALE CNN NEWSREADER:

―live pictures that we’re bringing to you. This is from a Donald Trump rally about to get underway in Tampa—

FEMALE CNN NEWSREADER:

All right. We’re awaiting the arrival of Donald Trump at a rally in Virginia Beach. These are live pictures right now as the crowd—

NARRATOR:

And as the months wore on, Trump’s message caught fire with a more sinister crowd.

MALE PROTESTER:

Go [expletive] cook my burrito, b----!

KATY TUR, NBC News:

The anger only increased as it got farther along.

MALE PROTESTER:

Go [expletive] make my tortilla, motherf-----! And build that [expletive] wall for me! Trump! I love Trump!

KATY TUR:

It became completely acceptable, it became OK to come to a Trump rally and wear a shirt that says "Hillary Clinton is a C--T."

ROGER STONE:

The campaign is continually dogged by a small and vocal number of white supremacists, Klansmen, neo-Nazis.

NARRATOR:

Roger Stone was a longtime political adviser to Donald Trump. He has since been convicted of lying to Congress.

ROGER STONE:

This isn’t a very large group of people, but they're very vocal. And they attach themselves to Trump.

GABRIEL SHERMAN:

Trump, whenever there was a moment to draw a line between himself and these extreme parts of the voting bloc, he refused. And I think, without question, the only way you can interpret that is that he was going to use these groups to try to build this coalition.

NARRATOR:

As anti-Trump protesters showed up at his rallies—

DONALD TRUMP:

There’s the guy. Totally disruptive, throwing punches.

NARRATOR:

—Trump had no boundaries.

DONALD TRUMP:

I love the old days. Do you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.

I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you. Ah, it’s true.

ALEC MacGILLIS, ProPublica:

You start seeing these really ugly moments at the rallies, with protesters, some of whom are non white protesters, getting treated very violently by his supporters, Trump himself seeming to incite his supporters to go after protesters.

DONALD TRUMP:

Knock the crap out of him, would you? Just knock the hell out of him. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise. I promise.

NARRATOR:

Trump was pouring fuel on the flames of division.

His brand of politics and American anger were becoming one and the same.

MATT BAI:

He did not create this moment. He did not create the ugliness. He did not create the Twitter social media universe. He did not create the xenophobia, the nationalism, the backlash against globalism and global crusades. He did not create entertainment politics—politics as a form of reality show television.

He created none of this. He is its pure manifestation, the absolute logical endpoint of a bunch of trends in American life. I think he is its beneficiary, 100%.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

New poll has 87% of Republicans supporting Trump. The other 13% are currently standing on bridges looking vacantly into the distance. [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Critics say the poll was unscientific, because even science can’t explain how Donald Trump is still in the lead. [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

It's Six Flags on stage. He’s like a president and an amusement park all rolled up into one. [Laughter]

NARRATOR:

Donald Trump wasn’t the only one who seized the opportunity to exploit the nation’s division.

Vladimir Putin did it, too, using a cyberattack to strike at the fault lines of American democracy.

GREG MILLER, Author, "The Apprentice":

The effectiveness of this interference from Russia depends on a couple things.

It depends on the polarization of politics in America. There were divides, and Russia was pushing out material that exploited those divides, that broadened them, that called attention to those divides.

NARRATOR:

Posts on black power.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

Staying woke, uplifting our people.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

We are proud to be black and stand for our community.

NARRATOR:

On Southern pride.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

The Confederate flag represents heritage, not hate.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

Join our fight to save Southern heritage!

NARRATOR:

Russian attacks played into deep-seated fears—

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

If I win, Clinton wins!

NARRATOR:

—exploiting both sides on the most divisive issues.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

Stop police brutality!

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

Blue Lives Matter!

NARRATOR:

Immigration.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

It’s time to get rid of parasites!

NARRATOR:

Guns.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

I’ll keep my guns, freedom and money.

NARRATOR:

Race.

MALE VOICE [reading online comment]:

White kids chant N-word in school bus.

CHARLIE SYKES, Former conservative radio host:

And that’s when I realized, "Uh-oh, things have gone too far." There was a tipping point that took place. And I think the Russians didn’t create that tipping point, but they exploited it. They saw the fissures of division, they saw these pivot points, and they went right for them.

NARRATOR:

Trump, himself sowing discord and chaos, encouraged the Russians to continue their attack and target Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

DONALD TRUMP:

I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.

PETER BAKER, Co-author, "Kremlin Rising":

I think that they started their operation to intervene in the election with the idea of simply sowing discord and weakening the United States as a country by doing so. It only later became a mission to actually specifically elect Donald Trump.

MALE VOICE:

[Speaking Russian]

NARRATOR:

To help Trump, the Russians spread fake news about Hillary Clinton.

FEMALE VOICE:

[Speaking Russian]

STEVE SCHMIDT:

Vladimir Putin certainly has our number as a country. He understood how easily Americans could be turned against each other with Facebook. What Facebook does is obliterate the ability to tell the lie from truth, where what is real, what is fake, is not discernible and not knowable. And the consequences of that for a democratic republic are frightening at best to think about.

FEMALE RT NEWS ANCHOR:

—record that Mrs. Clinton—

NARRATOR:

One particular conspiracy theory was aired in America by a Russian propaganda network, RT.

FEMALE RT NEWS ANCHOR:

Various theories about her health caught on.

NARRATOR:

Exaggerated and questionable stories about Clinton’s health.

FEMALE RT NEWS ANCHOR:

Under a microscope are Clinton’s falls, coughs and head motions.

FEMALE REPORTER:

And have you talked about—

FEMALE REPORTER:

—Sen. Warren—

FEMALE REPORTER:

Did you talk about vice presidential possibilities with Sen. Warren?

HILLARY CLINTON:

You guys have got to try the cold chai.

FEMALE RT NEWS ANCHOR:

This video filmed in June went viral and started a slew of rumors that Clinton may have had a seizure.

JAKE SULLIVAN, Former Clinton campaign adviser:

We were watching stories about Hillary Clinton appearing on Russian propaganda websites like Russia Today and Sputnik.

MALE RT NEWS ANCHOR:

A Democratic front-runner has been forced to refute rumors of her deteriorating health, maybe—

JAKE SULLIVAN:

And then somehow ending up in very similar form in the right-wing media ecosystem of the United States—Breitbart and InfoWars, even Fox News.

BRET BAIER:

What was once a concern voiced in whispers is now getting mainstream attention. We’re talking about Hillary Clinton’s health.

SEAN HANNITY:

Some have said it’s like a mini-seizure. What does it look like to you?

MALE FOX NEWS GUEST:

It could be a post-concussion syndrome. You know, your balance is off, you’re dizzy all the time, your memory is off.

NARRATOR:

It was invented, overblown, but it didn’t matter.

ALEX JONES:

The fact is she’s out there giving speeches every day and has to cancel them having these coughing fits.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

New questions tonight about Hillary Clinton’s health.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Good evening. It was a dramatic moment that’s already being watch and rewatched.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The episode this morning is raising more questions about her health.

MALE VOICE:

[Speaking Russian]

FEMALE VOICE:

[Speaking Russian]

NARRATOR:

And the candidate made the most of it.

DONALD TRUMP:

And she can’t make it 15 feet to her car. Give me a break, give me a break. Give me a break!

NARRATOR:

As the fake news spread, conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes saw how it hardened the divide.

CHARLIE SYKES:

I’ll tell you what my experience was in 2016, that the flood of these misleading or outright false stories was increasing. In the past, I’d always been able to push back on my audience and say, "OK, you understand this is not true. This is not the case. There are not bodies stacked up in the Clinton library, and here’s the source of all of that." By late 2016, though, I was no longer able to do that. People were not willing to accept the corrections. And Donald Trump is counting on this, and this does fundamentally change our politics.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

[Laughter] Not sure why Trump would openly ask Russia to spy on Americans, but I’m sure he has his treasons. [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Donald Trump is asking Russia to hack our former secretary of state— [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

A man running for president just asked Russia to hack Americans... [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Donald, your party wants you to appeal to the red states, not The Red State. [Laughter]

NARRATOR:

Using conflict and outrage, Donald Trump had galvanized an angry base and won over the reluctant Republican establishment.

But a tabloid crisis would test how much they would take and how far he could he go.

STEVE BANNON, Former Trump campaign CEO:

That day we're up on the 25th floor conference room, and it's Friday afternoon, about 2:00. And all of a sudden, Hope Hicks shows up outside the glass thing and she's giving me the signal. So I step out, and I go out, and I read this thing. She's got this transcript. And she's like, about to cry. She goes, "Oh, this is terrible."

NARRATOR:

Breitbart’s Steve Bannon had signed on as the CEO of Trump’s campaign.

STEVE BANNON:

I said, "What are you so upset about? What is this?" "The Washington Post is going to publish this story in an hour." And I go,"What's so bad about it?" And she goes, "Well, look it! He says, 'I'm going to grab them by the p---y.'" [Laughs] And I go, "Oh, maybe I haven't focused on that." So I look down, I go, "Oh, OK, OK."

DONALD TRUMP:

—I've got to use some Tic Tacs just in case we start kissing.

NARRATOR:

Bannon, Hicks, a top aide, and other members of the Trump team watched it online.

DONALD TRUMP:

You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet.

Hey, when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH:

Whatever you want.

DONALD TRUMP:

Grab 'em by the p---y.

BILLY BUSH:

[Laughs]

DONALD TRUMP:

You can do anything.

STEVE BANNON:

[Laughs] Like, whoa! Boom, that thing hits. And we're sitting in the conference room. And on video-–I didn't quite realize it was audio and video-–in video it's pretty powerful. So everything shuts down.

MALE CNN NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump caught on tape, in his own words, vulgar words, boasting about being able to grab women by their genitals and get away with it because he’s a star.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, Former Trump campaign manager:

So after the "Access Hollywood" tape, our poll numbers took a hit, and some national polls had us down to 35% and her at 48%. That's with one month to go exactly.

KATY TUR:

In the audio you can hear Trump talk about a married woman he tried to have sex with and how he behaves with women that he’s attracted to.

MEGYN KELLY:

The Trump campaign is in full damage control mode following the troubling story—

I thought that was probably it for Trump. It was stunning. I mean, it was stunning just to hear, you know, a major party nominee talk that way about any group, never mind my own, right? Women. It was jarring. It was very jarring.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The Trump camp has swiftly launched into disaster mode.

MALE NEWSREADER:

A big, big development in this campaign as it comes to—

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, Former Trump campaign adviser:

This was the October surprise; had the ability to take down a campaign. And the internal discussion amongst the campaign, some were "You need to apologize immediately," and some were "You need to double down."

NARRATOR:

A damage control team gathered: Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Kellyanne Conway, Bannon.

STEVE BANNON:

You know, it's Rudy and Christie and all the traditional politicians are saying it's over and you've got to—Trump's going around and saying, "Give me your percentage." and "What do I do?" And they're all like, you know, "0%, 20%." I go, "It’s 100%." And he goes—I said, "Listen, they don't care. This is locker room talk. They don't care about vulgarity or anything like that. They care about they're losing their jobs, they're losing their country. They see their country going away from them."

NARRATOR:

The Republican establishment began to defect.

STEVE BANNON:

[Laughs] He’s in a bad mood, OK? Now we’ve got a full revolt. Pence is nowhere to be found; he's not out there saying–-he gives—we get a letter from him. Paul Ryan's out of the campaign. McConnell's out, because they thought they were going to lose the Republican Party. They thought every woman in America will never vote for a Republican again, right, because this guy's a barbarian.

MALE NEWSREADER:

This is a political disaster, no doubt.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump's campaign, its worst crisis ever.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NewsHour":

You see so many Republicans denounce Trump, even though he is the Republican nominee and there's not going to be someone else to emerge. The Republicans are basically saying, "Whatever. Give it to the Democrats."

NARRATOR:

The traditional rules of politics called for an abject apology.

DONALD TRUMP:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them.

NARRATOR:

But then he would reframe the crisis on his own terms: “us versus them.”

DONALD TRUMP:

Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.

CROWD:

Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!

NARRATOR:

And soon the base let him know they had gotten the message.

CROWD:

We want Trump! We want Trump! We want Trump!

STEVE BANNON:

There's literally this mob down there. And he goes, "Look, there's my people." Trump just walks out there!

MAN IN CROWD:

Here he is! Donald! Donald! Woo-hoo!

NARRATOR:

They were on his side. They liked the conflict, the fight.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

He will never apologize. He punches and then he punches harder and then he doubles down and he refigures and then he punches again. He is never someone that's going to say, "I made a mistake" or "I apologize." He will never back down.

NARRATOR:

And the very next day, just before the presidential debate, Bannon had a plan to keep the conflict going.

STEVE BANNON:

We didn’t tell anybody. Trump didn’t know about it. We’re in the presidential suite at the hotel, walk up, and Trump, as often would do, would kind of lean back and almost close his eyes, and I said, "OK, here's what we've got. [Laughs] We've got Paula Jones and all the women that Clinton assaulted. Then you're going to sit in the middle. We're going to open the door, and they're going to come in, and we're going to f---ing hit 'em, OK?" And he—and I’m sitting there, I'm making my pitch, right? He goes—I go, "What do you think?" He goes, "I love it." [Laughs]

NARRATOR:

They spirited him down the freight elevator, put him in a conference room and opened the doors to an unsuspecting press corps.

KATY TUR:

Next thing I know—and no one in the press knew this was happening—there was a press conference with all of Bill Clinton’s accusers right before the debate.

DONALD TRUMP:

These four very courageous women have asked to be here, and it was our honor to help them.

KATY TUR:

There was widespread shock. Nobody had it beforehand.

JUANITA BROADDRICK:

Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me, and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison.

NARRATOR:

They were allegations the Clintons had long denied, but it didn’t matter to Bannon and Trump. They were sowing more chaos.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, Author, "Audience of One":

What's the point to all of this? It doesn't make Donald Trump or what he was caught on tape saying any better, but it just creates a lot of confusion and chaos.

MEGYN KELLY:

Even though it felt dirty, and you felt kind of gross when you watched the whole thing unfold, it was effective. It reminded all of us that the woman who would go into office if he lost was no saint either. Not Hillary herself, necessarily, but her husband—and with her enabling, really, it must be said.

DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you all very much. We appreciate it.

MALE REPORTER:

Mr. Trump, do you touch women—women without their consent? Mr. Trump—

MALE REPORTER:

Why did you say you touch women without consent, Mr. Trump?

PAULA JONES:

Why don’t y’all ask Bill Clinton that? Why don’t you'll go ask Bill Clinton that? Go ahead. Ask Hillary as well.

STEVE BANNON:

It was perfect. And that got us momentum. That gave us the velocity, that gave us the muzzle velocity to kind of drive home in the last, you know, five, four or five weeks of the campaign.

MATT BAI:

It was a show. First of all, it took some of the attention away from Trump. What he's really good at in a fight is muddying the waters, muddying the truth, muddying the focus to the point where everybody just says, "Eh, it's a wash." He's done this with the media for years. "They say this about me, I say this." People don't trust the media, people don't trust Trump. He knows that in the end they kind of throw up their hands and say, "You deserve each other." And that's fine with him.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

[Laughter] If the president thing doesn’t work out, I would love to see a reality show where Donald Trump and Billy Bush just travel around the country in a bus. [Laughter]

FEMALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

"Take a Tic Tac and grab them by the p---y" is the closest thing to a plan Donald Trump has described this entire election. [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Yeah, I don’t think that’s what Donald Trump’s advisers meant when they told him to reach out to women. [Groans]

BRET BAIER:

The Decision Desk has called Pennsylvania for Donald Trump.

NARRATOR:

On election night, Trump’s divisive campaign paid off.

BRET BAIER:

This means that Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. The most unreal, surreal election—

NARRATOR:

The base, energized, narrowly put him over the top.

BRET BAIER:

—in an Electoral College victory that virtually no one saw coming a year ago, a few months ago—even a month ago, even yesterday.

MEGYN KELLY:

Whoa, everyone got this wrong. I mean, 1% of the pollsters and the prognosticators called this, and everyone else was wrong. And this is a huge story.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

What Trump are we going to see tonight?

MALE NEWSREADER:

Donald Trump has broken the rules—

DAVID AXELROD:

There was a kind of prejudice against Trump, a kind of incredulity in the parlors of Washington and New York and Los Angeles. Somehow this guy who was so coarse and so blatantly exploiting race and division could actually win.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—how unpredictable the new terrain here in Washington is—

MALE NEWSREADER:

He’s come to Washington to change Washington—

WESLEY LOWERY:

It speaks to how deeply divided our nation is: that you have two candidates receive tens of millions of votes, a race that's separated by just a handful of votes in a handful of states.

They care about Donald Trump. They like that guy. They want him to be the president, and they want to beat the Democrats. Crooked Hillary.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The creation of a new reality. It's going to—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—caught a political earthquake, an unraveling of the system or even a revolution—

MALE NEWSREADER:

A President Trump is very much a wild card.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI:

I don’t think any of us thought he was going to win. When he wins, if people are being brutally honest, there was a level—a large measure of disbelief.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Is this our new normal? Is there reason for concern?

MALE NEWSREADER:

—the sheer unpredictability of a President Donald Trump.

DAVE BOSSIE, Former Trump campaign adviser:

Even for him, it was a little of an overwhelming feeling to see yourself be elected president of the United States and realize that you’re going to be the next commander in chief, the next leader of the free world. It’s a humbling, humbling thing.

MALE NEWSREADER:

2016 changed the face of American politics forever.

NARRATOR:

After a polarizing campaign, he would need an acceptance speech to signal to the country, to an anxious Wall Street and the world—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—a case of disruption coming to Washington—

NARRATOR:

—what kind of president he would be.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI:

I remember calling him on his cell phone when the futures were down. Bloomberg was reporting that stock futures were down 600 as a result of his victory, and I remember saying to him, "Hey, we've got to put some stuff in there that are sensitizing to the markets, to let people know things are going to be OK."

NARRATOR:

But Steve Bannon didn’t want things to be OK. He went to work on a speech that would emphasize division—give the base what it wanted.

STEVE BANNON:

And I start working on, like at, you know, 1:00, 12:00, 1:00 in the morning. It was go to Washington and we’re going to burn out the permanent political class. We’re going to take a torch to the enemy, OK? That—it was fire-breathing.

NARRATOR:

But having won, Trump wavered. He would sound uncharacteristically conciliatory.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP:

Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division—we have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.

STEVE BANNON:

You never see the Trump victory night speech ever replayed, because it’s just not Trump. It’s not a—it’s kind of like, let’s have a group hug.

DONALD TRUMP:

For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, [Laughter] I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.

STEVE BANNON:

I said, "No, no, no, no, we didn’t win an election to bring the country together. It’s not time to bring the country together. It’s time to take on the elites in this country, take the torch to 'em. Hit 'em with a blowtorch."

DONALD TRUMP:

I love this country. Thank you. Thank you very much.

SEAN SPICER, Former RNC chief strategist:

I saw him, not only then, but after he returned to Trump Tower that night. And the weight of election, the processing of recognizing what was about to happen, was clearly going through his mind at the time. You could see how profound the moment was.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI:

I think there was a little bit of shock there, a moment of vulnerability. He said he was literally going to act more presidential than Abraham Lincoln. We laughed, but he meant it seriously. He was going to dial back on Twitter, dial up on presidential nature, if you will.

NARRATOR:

In his next public appearance it was toned-down Trump again. In the Oval Office, no sign of the brutal divisiveness that had gotten him there.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Well, I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump.

DAN BALZ, The Washington Post:

To see the two of them in the Oval Office was kind of the final moment of, "How in the world did this happen? And what have we just gone through?"

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

Been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump’s. I believe that it is important to all of us—

BEN RHODES:

Trump is totally disinterested in the gravity of the job he’s walking into. Just doesn’t care.

NARRATOR:

Ben Rhodes was one of Obama’s closest aides.

BEN RHODES:

I think for Obama it was like a gut punch. Obama’s seeing this meeting as an opportunity—"I need to tell him about all these things—how health care works in this country, North Korean threat, what's going on with Iran." And Trump is totally disinterested in any of this. Didn’t even care.

NARRATOR:

In front of the cameras, the reality TV star smiled and tried out his new role.

DONALD TRUMP:

We were just going to get to know each other. We had never met each other. I have great respect. The meeting lasted for almost an hour and half. And it could have—as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.

MICHAEL KRANISH, Co-author, "Trump Revealed":

The Donald Trump who came to the Oval Office on Nov. 10, two days after Election Day, seemed like a very different Donald Trump. He spoke very respectfully of President Obama, who he had questioned whether was a legitimate president to the birther issue. But here he was saying he greatly admired President Obama. So for someone who’s just heard Trump talk on the campaign, it seemed like an out-of-body experience.

DONALD TRUMP:

And I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future. Thank you, sir.

BARACK OBAMA:

Thank you, everybody. We’re not—we are not going to—

MOLLY BALL, The Atlantic, 2011-17:

And there was an idea, for a brief moment, that he was about to pivot; he was about to be "presidential." He would show us all that he was capable of uniting America and speaking to everybody at once.

NARRATOR:

But before long, the anger, resentment, conflict that had put Donald Trump in power would return.

It erupted after one decisive meeting.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—showdown at Trump Tower between the president-elect and top intelligence—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President-elect Trump is about to get all of the details from U.S. intelligence officials.

NARRATOR:

That day the powerful leaders of the intelligence community arrived at Trump Tower.

They came, evidence in hand, to convince the president-elect the Russians really had interfered in the election.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—all setting the stage for what could be a day of fireworks here at Trump Tower.

SUSAN GLASSER, Co-author, "Kremlin Rising":

He came to identify the question of the Russian intervention in the election as a questioning of his own election as president. And so he, from the very beginning, refused to treat this in a way that I think any other president would have, which is as a serious attack on the U.S. and its election integrity, but chose to view it in very personalized terms.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The officials say they’ll present him with classified materials that proved Russia—

NARRATOR:

And it only got more personal. After the briefing, FBI Director James Comey spoke to Trump privately.

MATT APUZZO, The New York Times:

Comey pulls the president aside and he tells him, "Hey, listen, I need you to know that there’s this— what we now call 'the dossier.’"

NARRATOR:

The dossier: unverified and sensational allegations prepared by a former British spy, partially paid for by the Democrats.

It was political dynamite.

MALE VOICE [reading from dossier]:

Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years.

JANE MAYER, The New Yorker:

It’s full of things that may be able to allow the Russians to blackmail him. It has information about him involved in perverted sexual acts.

MALE VOICE [reading from dossier]:

—to exploit Trump’s personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable "kompromat" (compromising material) on him.

NARRATOR:

After the meeting, the president-elect was furious.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, Co-author, "Russian Roulette":

Trump is talking to his top aides, and he views this as blackmail. "It’s a shakedown," he tells them. His assumption is that Comey is giving this to him to show him that he’s got something on him.

NARRATOR:

Then news of the briefing leaked.

MALE CNN ANNOUNCER:

This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER:

CNN has learned that the nation’s top intelligence officials provided information to President-elect Donald Trump—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

There’s the controversial move by BuzzFeed last night, publishing a dossier sources—

NARRATOR:

Before long, the entire dossier was online.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—but they have been detailed by numerous media outlets, including BuzzFeed, The New York Times and CNN—

NARRATOR:

Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon told the president-elect he knew what was going on. Bannon himself had used Breitbart to wage harsh right-wing attacks.

Now, Bannon said, the mainstream media was going after Trump.

STEVE BANNON:

This is what scumbags the mainstream media are and how gutless they are. BuzzFeed—BuzzFeed, the standard of excellence in journalism in our country-–prints the dossier with the link. And I said, "Here it goes." Because then The New York Times, The Washington Post, it's bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. They're reporting that this was given to the president, right?

NARRATOR:

He wasn’t even president, and already Trump was under siege.

HOWARD KURTZ, Author, "Media Madness":

The president-elect must have concluded that the press was going to be an adversarial, confrontational force, even before he took office, and that the press had sources that could undermine him—sources that knew what he was doing, even if he was privately meeting with the FBI director. I think that set the tone for what was to follow.

NARRATOR:

Now it was back to what Trump did best.

At a press conference the very next day, he gave his base what they had come to expect: He attacked.

DONALD TRUMP:

I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake, out.

J.D. GORDON, Former Trump campaign adviser:

He expressed his frustration. He knows it’s a setup. He knows it’s a plot to destroy him and people around him.

DONALD TRUMP:

And that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. I think it’s a disgrace.

JOHN CASSIDY, The New Yorker:

Trump, I think because of the dossier and the leak of the dossier, was so furious that he just came out and lashed out at everybody. And I think that sort of set the tone for the entire administration, to be honest.

DONALD TRUMP:

That information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public.

JOHN CASSIDY:

I think that was a signal to everybody, certainly to me and the rest of the media, that this was the Trump we were going to get in the White House; that it wasn’t going to be any sort of a reset. It was going to be the angry—the same Trump that was out there on the campaign trail.

JIM ACOSTA:

Can you give us a question?

DONALD TRUMP:

Go ahead.

NARRATOR:

Trump made it clear the press was the enemy.

JIM ACOSTA:

Mr. President-elect, that you are attacking our news organization—

DONALD TRUMP:

No, not you. Not you.

JIM ACOSTA:

Can you give us a chance?

DONALD TRUMP:

Your organization is terrible.

JIM ACOSTA:

You are attacking our news organization—

DONALD TRUMP:

Your organization is terrible. Let’s go.

JIM ACOSTA:

Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? Sir! Can you state—Mr. President-elect, can you state categorically—

DONALD TRUMP:

Let’s go. Go ahead. Quiet. Quiet. Go ahead. She’s asking a question; don’t be rude.

JIM ACOSTA:

Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question?

DONALD TRUMP:

Don’t be rude.

JIM ACOSTA:

You’re attacking us.

NARRATOR:

He then deployed a weapon designed to undermine the media: a catchphrase.

JIM ACOSTA:

Can you state categorically—

DONALD TRUMP:

You are fake news. Go ahead.

JIM ACOSTA:

Sir, can you state categorically—

CHARLIE SYKES:

It was really extraordinary watching Donald Trump take "fake news," the term "fake news," and adopt it as his own critique of the media. He has created this alternative reality that allows him to dismiss or discredit anything that is negative while pushing his own narrative.

DONALD TRUMP:

But I will tell you, some of the media outlets that I deal with are fake news more so than anybody. I could name them, but I won’t bother, but you have a few sitting right in front of us. So they’re very, very dishonest people.

DAN BALZ:

He used it as a way again to divide the country, to energize his supporters and to cast himself as somebody who is under siege by an establishment or an elite whose interests are counter to the people who elected Donald Trump.

And frankly, very effectively done.

DONALD TRUMP:

It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.

FRANK LUNTZ, GOP pollster:

He’s a brilliant marketer. And he knew that with the drop in credibility of the media, and the increase in skepticism and cynicism from the public, that he was able to get away with much more. He was able to say things that no other president had said and to be able to challenge the press directly.

DONALD TRUMP:

That this fake news was indeed fake news.

JIM ACOSTA:

Sir, you did not answer—sir, you did not answer whether any of your associates were in contact with the Russians. Sir, you did not answer—you did not answer whether any of your associates were in contact with the Russians. Can you categorically deny that did not happen, sir? Can you categorically deny that did not happen, sir?

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The world is watching our country today—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Trump is set to become America's 45th president today.

NARRATOR:

As he took the oath of office, Donald Trump made no pretense of seeking unity or healing. He spoke directly to his base.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

NARRATOR:

He framed the conflict: “us versus them.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs.

RONALD BROWNSTEIN:

He very much made accentuating the divide part of his campaign strategy, and even more incredibly, part of his governing strategy. I think he is the first president who arrived explicitly understanding, and even seeking to speak only to his base.

NARRATOR:

But that very day he would be confronted by the other side of the divide.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—people of this crowd were waiting for, and they got their moment, and I have to tell you, we are just passing Trump Hotel; we did pass protesters, so you could hear the din of the people chanting—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

We are next—right across the street from the hotel. There is a huge group of protesters combined with supporters, and they’ve been very vocal, and we’ve seen a few flare-ups.

MALE NEWSREADER:

It looks like they’re going back to the car—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

So, Lester, there is a change of plans now, I believe. He is back in his vehicle.

NARRATOR:

It was a sign of the anger also deepening on the left. The mood that day went from peaceful protests—

PROTESTERS:

Trump and Pence are fascists! Trump and Pence are fascists! Trump and Pence are fascists!

NARRATOR:

—to standoffs to violent provocation.

MALE RIOTER:

Light it up!

NARRATOR:

By the next day, hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters overwhelmed Washington.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Today, the resistance will be televised live from Washington, D.C.—

MALE NEWSREADER:

One of the largest single-day protests in American history, speaking out against Donald Trump just one day after he took office.

PROTESTERS:

We want a leader, not a tweeter! We want a leader, not a tweeter!

JUDY WOODRUFF:

The day after the inauguration, there were more people who showed up on the National Mall in Washington for the Women’s March than there had been the day before, when a new president was inaugurated.

PROTESTERS:

Pence sucks, too! Pence sucks, too!

DAN BALZ:

When you had the Women’s March and the hundreds of thousands of people out in the streets—

FEMALE PROTESTER:

Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!

DAN BALZ:

—in Washington, in cities around the country, in places around the world, there was an energy created by his election; that energy began to course through the political system, and you could see that with the Women’s March.

ANDERSON COOPER:

There will be a debate about the size of the crowd, these protesters saying that they’re going to have a bigger crowd here today than Donald Trump had of his supporters for his inaugural yesterday. We’ll let that debate play out—

NARRATOR:

The protests, the women, then the breaking point: The news about the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—former President Obama on the left, and Trump’s inauguration, where, there on the right, with far fewer spectators.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—literally from the exact same vantage point showing a big difference in the size of the crowd—

MALE NEWSREADER:

There were big holes in the crowd, so those are the comparisons right there.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—paling in comparison to President Obama’s—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Take a look at that exact same image from today; we saw a lot fewer—we saw fewer people.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Visually, at least? It was smaller—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

I think it’s safe to say there was light turnout.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, TV critic, The New York Times:

Donald Trump is a TV guy. He has always been concerned with his ratings and with numeric values of winning versus losing. So the notion of having a smaller crowd than somebody else just eats at him.

NARRATOR:

On their first day in the White House, press aide Cliff Sims saw Trump’s frustration up close.

CLIFF SIMS, Former Trump aide:

Within the first five minutes that I’m in the building, there’s this kind of crisis moment. There was a lot of reporting that the inaugural crowds for him were not as big as the inaugural crowds for Obama. That is the equivalent for Donald Trump of a schoolyard fight, so they were really coming after him, [Laughs] hitting him where it hurts.

PETER BAKER, The New York Times:

And he starts insisting, "That’s not true. We have the biggest crowd ever." He tells Sean Spicer, his press secretary, "You go out there and tell them that." And it sets the tone. It sets the tone from the beginning: This is not about healing; this is not about bringing people together.

CLIFF SIMS:

Sean, first day on the job, is thinking to himself, "Here is my chance to show I’m tough. I’m going to punch back 10 times harder than they hit us. Let’s figure out how to do that." I grab a computer, start pecking out a statement.

NARRATOR:

This was the statement they drafted. Almost every fact about the crowd size was wrong.

CLIFF SIMS:

We were so caught up in the moment, and Sean’s trying to impress the president, and I’m being told facts that end up not being true, which we didn’t vet properly. Sean was basically marching out to his own death there.

SEAN SPICER:

Good evening. Thank you, guys, for coming. I know—

CLIFF SIMS:

At least his credibility’s death.

SEAN SPICER:

Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.

CLIFF SIMS:

And only a fool would have gone out there kind of half-cocked the way that we did. And we were those fools.

SEAN SPICER:

This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe. Even The New York Times—

STEVE SCHMIDT:

When he goes out and says,"This is the biggest crowd size ever"—

SEAN SPICER:

—a misrepresentation of the crowd—

STEVE SCHMIDT:

—what he's saying in essence is, "What's true is what the leader says is true." The obliteration of the line between truth and the lie is fundamental to grasp because it's so elemental to a functioning democracy. And the degradation of those institutions is a weakening of our system.

MALE INTERVIEWER:

Did you lie on his behalf?

SEAN SPICER, Former Trump press secretary:

No.

MALE INTERVIEWER:

Never?

SEAN SPICER:

No. There were plenty of times when—look, your job, you may not go full-on, but I don’t think—that's—you’re—I think I—the job of the press secretary is to articulate what the principal wants articulated, not what you want. You're not there to call balls and strikes and interpret.

That’s what you guys should be writing and covering instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives. I will see you on Monday.

MALE REPORTER:

What’s your reaction—

FEMALE REPORTER:

Sean? Women’s March—

MALE REPORTER:

How about the Obamacare changes?

FEMALE REPORTER:

You can't say no one has numbers and then say—

MALE REPORTER:

Women’s March bigger than Trump’s inaugural?

DAN BALZ:

What we learned in those first days of the Trump presidency was the degree to which Donald Trump was going to insist on trying to write the history of his presidency the way he wanted to; that if you spoke for Donald Trump, you had a constituency of one, and that was Donald Trump.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

What it——you're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving—Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains—

CHUCK TODD:

Wait a minute. [Laughs] Alternative facts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

—that there’s—

CHUCK TODD:

Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered. The one thing he got right—

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Hey, Chuck, why—hey, Chuck—

CHUCK TODD:

—is Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts; they’re falsehoods.

MATT BAI:

I mean, the obvious impact is that it’s created a tremendously dangerous, unstable force in American life, where people don’t know what to believe. People have been told they’re right not to believe the things they are told by credible sources. The president of the United States has contributed mightily to an environment where people believe what they want to believe, and that is going to have long-term repercussions.

NARRATOR:

Trump didn’t let it go. The fight over crowd size resonated with his base and the "us versus them" war he was waging.

MALE REPORTER:

Just before we leave, the president tells us he wants to show us just one more image.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

One thing this shows is how far over they go here. Look. Look how far this is. This goes all the way down here, all the way down. Nobody sees that. You don't see that in the pictures. But when you look at this tremendous sea of love—I call it a sea of love—it's really something special.

JUDY WOODRUFF:

It really did become emblematic of what the Trump presidency was to be, in that nothing was accepted at face value.

It was kind of a warning sign that not to take your eye off this ball, because it’s going to be different from now on. And it has been.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

[Laughter] He’s focused on the size of his crowds, the size of his ratings, the size of his hands, the size of, well, everything, and— [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Either that’s a lot of empty space or that crowd is even whiter than I thought. [Laughter]

FEMALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

You just couldn’t see Trump’s crowd because they were wearing polar bear skins. [Laughter]

NARRATOR:

Trump’s first acts as president were also meant to stoke conflict.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Next is an executive order minimizing the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal.

NARRATOR:

He signed a raft of executive orders on some of the most divisive issues in American life and politics.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Trump’s advisers have teed up more than 200 possible executive orders for the new president to consider—

NARRATOR:

On Obamacare.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Another executive order, and this one is associated with Obamacare—

NARRATOR:

The environment.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

He's speeding up environmental reviews and approval—

NARRATOR:

Immigration and the border wall.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—sign an executive order to begin building the wall on the southern border.

BEN SHAPIRO, Editor-in-chief, The Daily Wire:

I do think that they wanted to have a flurry of activity at the beginning to demonstrate that Trump is what he said he was. He's not going to wait. He's not going to take his time. He knows what to do, and he's going to fix everything. He's going to set the world right, immediately.

STEVE BANNON, Former Trump chief strategist:

The message is, "It’s a crisis; we’re at work, and we’re driving this. Donald Trump’s president of the United States. Now comes the hour of action. There’s been enough talk."

NARRATOR:

Steve Bannon kept a list on his office wall of the promises that the president was trying to deliver on.

CLIFF SIMS:

People talk all the time about everything that Trump does politically is a base play, and Steve Bannon being the example of the one who encourages him to, you know, "Let’s play to the base. Let’s play to the base. Let’s play to the base."

They feel vindicated that 2016 showed that if you energize a sliver of the country that that can be more powerful than kind of having this, you know, more even-keel message that we’re going to appeal to a little bit of everyone. Steve Bannon I think rejects that premise, and he says that I'm all about energizing this sliver. And that that’s the way to win.

NARRATOR:

The most explosive executive order, crafted to create shock and awe, was aimed at blocking people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

CHARLIE SYKES:

Everybody understood what the travel ban was designed, in fact, to do. They understood the symbolism; they understood the message that it sent to his base. And what they were saying was, "Promise made, promise kept."

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

"Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." It’s big stuff.

NARRATOR:

The reaction from the other side was immediate: more outrage.

MALE NEWSREADER:

A scene of outrage at JFK Airport in New York, where two men—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Protests all across the country, reaction from around the world after the president signed his executive order—

MATT BAI:

As a symbolic issue to his base and to his opponents, as a marker in American life and in the American political debate, when we moved into an entirely different, dark kind of period, I think its significance is hard to overstate.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Swift reaction from around the country—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—now protests, outrage and backlash from President Trump’s refugee ban.

WESLEY LOWERY:

These actions that Trump does to appease his base and to excite his base have incited the resistance against—

PROTESTERS:

No ban! No wall! For all!

WESLEY LOWERY:

The travel ban is one of the most important days in the Trump presidency, not just because of the policy itself and what it says about us as Americans, much less the people themselves, who are now imperiled, unclear if they could come to the United States, but it was the thousands of people rushing the airports.

MALE NEWSREADER:

In Seattle, police actually dispersed some crowds with pepper spray. It was a day of high drama—

WESLEY LOWERY:

It was the day when it felt like democracy may be crumbling at its seams—

PROTESTERS:

No bans! No walls! Sanctuary for all!

WESLEY LOWERY:

—and what might still be here when we wake up in the morning? There’s going to be 7,000 people at LaGuardia and at DCA and at Dulles? Are they going to start storming the gates and seizing refugees from TSA agents?

PROTESTERS:

Right now! Let them go! Right now! Let them go!

REP. CHARLIE DENT, R-Pa., 2005-18:

It struck me that this administration was going to be a lot different than any other we had seen; that they were simply not going to abide by any type of process; that there was a certain amount of spontaneity and impulsiveness about the way this administration was going to operate.

CROWD:

The people united will never be divided! The people united will never divided!

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The president will meet with more Republicans in Congress.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump will meet with conservative leaders to talk about health care today—

NARRATOR:

He had incited conflict with the travel ban, and now he would move on to another polarizing issue: Obamacare.

REP. TOM COLE, R-Okla.:

The Republican Party had for three elections in a row run on the repeal of Obamacare. So I think that there was a sense that, "Hey, we owe our electorate; they put us here for this reason."

NARRATOR:

To get it done, Trump would rely on Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican establishment.

STEVE BANNON:

In the sequencing of repeal and replace, and that's where the establishment and Ryan says, "I got this. We voted 50 times—50 times—to repeal this. This is something we own. We know this better than anybody."

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump met earlier this evening with members of the Freedom Caucus to discuss—

NARRATOR:

But like the travel ban, Trump’s effort was immediately mired in angry opposition.

FRANK LUNTZ:

There’s still half of America, which is a significant percentage, that did not vote for Trump, did not vote for Republicans in Congress and did want to repair Obamacare but didn’t want to dump it.

And when you start with the most contentious issue, what are you going to get?

JOSHUA GREEN, Bloomberg Businessweek:

All around the country you had these hugely energized town halls, and legislators would go home and get screamed at by constituents who were terrified they were going to take away their health care.

REP. DAVE BRAT, R-Va., Tea Party, 2014-19:

I had the Resist movement and the protesters around the building.

The problem is Obamacare has just collapsed.

TOWN HALL AUDIENCE:

Boo! [Shouts]

DAVE BRAT:

There’s just a huge reaction. I had town halls with people in churches swearing and lobbing F-bombs at the pastor, if that helps set the tone. I’d try to finish sentences on health care, etc., whatever. Folks are just, "Brahh."

PROTESTERS:

Read our questions! Read our questions!

DAVE BRAT:

That’s what we were facing, right? People were saying, "You’re going to take away health care for millions" and "Brahh, boo!" you know—[Laughs] so, it was hard to have a rational dialogue. Still is.

PROTESTERS:

Shame on you! Shame on you!

SUSAN DAVIS, NPR:

They were kicking a hornets’ nest of millions of Americans who are now terrified that they could lose their health insurance coverage.

MALE TOWN HALL SPEAKER:

—and take the billionaires' money and give it to that woman! Here!

SUSAN DAVIS:

It just created an environment that I also don’t think Republicans were really politically ready for.

MALE TOWN HALL SPEAKER:

—single-payer, run by the government? Oh, yeah, it’s got problems, but it’s also got elections, and you’re going to find that out in 2018!

MALE NEWSREADER:

What Trump has done is he’s made Obamacare popular. Obamacare—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The reality is that Obamacare is very popular right now.

NARRATOR:

Trump’s frustration grew as the legislation became bogged down.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—repeal legislation that is twice as popular as the president—

PETER BAKER:

The vagaries of the legislative process are lost on him. On "The Apprentice," you just simply say, "You’re fired," and that’s the end of it. The idea of working with a legislature is kind of—it’s a mystery to him. And so, "How is it these Republicans can’t get this done? What is it you’re doing, Paul Ryan? You told me you were going to get this done?"

STEVE BANNON:

Then "repeal and replace" becomes a fiasco. They’re totally and completely incompetent. They’re not ready to govern. They’re just not ready to govern.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the latest version of the bill to replace Obamacare—

NARRATOR:

Trump watched as the Senate prepared for a crucial vote on health care reform.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—vote on health care, a vote that’s too close to call at this point.

NARRATOR:

The key vote: Republican Sen. John McCain, a longtime Trump adversary.

NEWS REPORTERS

—he is expected to return to Capitol Hill today to cast what is expected to be a "yes" vote on health care.

MALE PRESIDING OFFICER:

The clerk will call the roll.

MALE CLERK:

Mr. Alexander.

ED O’KEEFE, The Washington Post, 2005-18:

It was the most dramatic night on the Senate floor I had seen in all my years up there.

MALE CLERK:

Mr. Barrasso.

SUSAN DAVIS:

The vote’s ticking away, the vote's ticking away. And McCain’s on the floor, but he’s not voting.

MALE CLERK:

Mr. Blunt. Mr. Booker.

LISA DESJARDINS, "PBS NewsHour":

You saw Mitch McConnell looking more and more unhappy; his arms were closed. And you could tell from the body language on the Republican side that they were very worried.

MALE CLERK:

Mr. Durbin.

SUSAN DAVIS:

John McCain walks up to where the vote clerks are and he lifts his hand very dramatically.

NARRATOR:

McCain, with a thumbs-down gesture, shocked the chamber.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN, R-Ariz.:

No!

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-Maine:

You could hear audible gasps in the chamber, and those gasps of surprise came from both sides of the aisle.

JOHN McCAIN:

No!

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

In the Senate chambers you could hear the shock: first gasps, then applause.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Another devastating blow to Republican senators as an Obamacare repeal fails—

FRANK LUNTZ:

Nobody was expecting John McCain to vote no, and the way that he did obviously had ramifications not just in the Senate or in Congress, but in the White House as well. And how it would make everything more difficult because members are fighting with each other now.

DON LEMON:

Breaking news right now. The Republicans' Obamacare repeal failed in the Senate tonight, the vote 49 to 51.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The dramatic collapse of the health care effort—

NARRATOR:

The president had been watching on television.

SEAN SPICER:

We were in the dining room off the Oval Office. There was profound disappointment that we were that close, and that we had spent a lot of effort really believing that we could finally do something when it comes to health care.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Republicans tried and have failed again—

SEAN SPICER:

And so it was just huge disappointment.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

We are continuing to follow breaking news on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers dealt a serious blow to the president’s agenda—

NARRATOR:

His first major legislative effort went down in defeat.

JOSHUA GREEN:

Trump was angry. He was angry because he was failing as a president. All he had to do was click on cable news to see that he wasn’t being portrayed as the winning, swashbuckling, powerful president he wanted to be.

NARRATOR:

It was a decisive moment.

He would have to unleash his attack politics onto the Republican establishment itself.

ALEX MARLOW, Editor-in-chief, Breitbart:

He goes with the corrupt, feckless Republican establishment instincts for the first couple months of his presidency, and it backfires. What other conclusion could he draw other than now it’s time to try some stuff on my own?

NARRATOR:

This time he turned to the base, spoke to them directly.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us H-care!

NARRATOR:

He targeted congressional Republicans, especially leader Mitch McConnell.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

Sen. Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don’t think so. After seven years of hearing "repeal and replace," why not done?

SUSAN DAVIS:

The president’s frustration was not subtle, right? Particularly towards Mitch McConnell. I think he just saw him as a failure.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed "repeal and replace" for seven years, couldn’t get it done.

JOSHUA GREEN:

Trump was using the most powerful weapon he has, which is Twitter, to humiliate him repeatedly, to rake him over the coals, to let his followers know, "This is Mitch McConnell’s fault. He’s failed you, not me."

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

Mitch, get back to work and put repeal and replace, tax reform and cuts and a great infrastructure bill on my desk for signing.

FRANK LUNTZ:

He’s feeding it. Trump is feeding hostility towards Congress. And that tweetstorm galvanized Trump voters to turn against Congress in a way that I’ve never seen a governing party’s supporters engage in.

NARRATOR:

He had exploited division; separated the country into us versus them; and now he would target a new enemy, the government itself, tapping into conspiratorial fears he called “the deep state.”

DAVID URBAN, Former Trump campaign adviser:

There is a permanent class of federal employees that don’t necessarily agree or voted for this president and that aren't thrilled to see him in power. They're working, internally, against the president.

NARRATOR:

Trump’s war with the deep state began with FBI Director James Comey, the man who had delivered the dossier and was investigating Russian election interference.

Unable to get him to back down, Trump fired him.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Breaking news: James Comey has been removed from heading the FBI. This is a statement from—

NARRATOR:

TV news helicopters were waiting as Comey left the FBI field office in Los Angeles.

MALE NEWSREADER:

This was a very closely kept secret here at the White House. I am told only a handful of top advisers—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Trump has finally fired FBI Director Comey. This guy—

HOWARD KURTZ:

When the president fired Jim Comey there was an explosion, a huge eruption in the media and the country. You started hearing Donald Trump compared to Richard Nixon. This was another Saturday Night Massacre. This was another Watergate.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The firing of Comey, though, has drawn comparisons to President Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre—

CLIFF SIMS:

This is a moment where you really understand the feedback loop that Trump kind of thrives on. "I make a decision, and then I’m able to immediately go and watch the reaction."

JAKE TAPPER:

Stunning news, even for President Trump, who has been known to shock people.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

This is a president using his power to prevent himself from falling under the justice system that we all have to deal with.

ERIN BURNETT:

The bombshell announcement, something that was completely unexpected to anyone—

CLIFF SIMS:

What are the talking heads saying about this? How is it being framed? How is it being covered by the media?

NARRATOR:

Trump would escalate the conflict—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

In a campaign-style rally, a defiant President Trump—

NARRATOR:

—rallying his base against the media—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Trump back in his happy place tonight in front of a crowd of adoring supporters—

NARRATOR:

—the Justice Department and the FBI.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I did you a great favor when I fired this guy, I tell you. I did you a great favor. Look at what’s happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion—give me a break!

JONATHAN MAHLER, The New York Times Magazine:

It’s basically a kind of divide-and-conquer kind of strategy. And so as long as the country is sort of divided and he has his defenders, he can undermine those who are attacking him.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

People, take a look at the intelligence agencies. Honestly, folks, let me tell you, let me tell you, it’s a disgrace. We've got to get back down to business. It’s a disgrace—

JEH JOHNSON, Former secretary, DHS:

I was surprised and unsettled that we have a new president who is attacking institutions of his own government, his own intelligence community, his own law enforcement community. These are people who work for him and are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. So this was an unprecedented historic situation.

NARRATOR:

To his supporters he cast himself as a victim.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

There is no collusion and no obstruction. I should be given apology!

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history, led by some very bad and conflicted people!

NARRATOR:

His tweets provided the script for Fox News.

MALE FOX ANNOUNCER:

"Fox and Friends" starts right now.

FEMALE FOX NEWSREADER:

The president is really mad.

MALE FOX NEWSREADER:

He tweeted this out: "As the phony Russian witch hunt continues"—

NEWT GINGRICH:

This is a very dangerous witch hunt.

TRISH REGAN:

It's only because I think this is a witch hunt.

SEAN HANNITY:

—and put an end to the political witch hunt against President Trump.

JOSHUA GREEN:

If you turn on Fox News, if you click on Breitbart, he is this hero victimized by forces who are unfairly attacking him.

MALE CNN ANNOUNCER:

This is CNN breaking news—

JOSHUA GREEN:

If you turn on CNN, if you open up The New York Times—

DON LEMON:

—really looks a lot like obstruction of justice.

JOSHUA GREEN:

—Trump is a failing president who’s very unpopular.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-Ill.:

The president has no one to blame but himself.

JOSHUA GREEN:

And increasingly, those two worlds pulled apart. The partisan divide became even deeper than it was in the election, it became a chasm. And in many ways, it’s an unbridgeable chasm.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

—but he thinks he’s still on the "Celebrity Apprentice." It was between James Comey and Meat Loaf and, well, [Laughter] the Loaf won again—

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

President Vladimir Putin said today that Russia had nothing to do with the firing of FBI Director James Comey. [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Comey thought it was a prank and started laughing. [Laughter] But to be fair, that’s also how Trump reacted when he won the election. [Laughter] He was like—

PROTESTERS:

Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!

NARRATOR:

Then, the starkest example of just how ugly it was all becoming.

PROTESTERS:

Jews will not replace us!

DAN BALZ:

Charlottesville. In many ways, it was the worst moment of the first year of his presidency, because it was so—it was so obvious what a president should do in a situation like that.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

We have breaking news tonight with that "alt-right" white nationalist rally. Take a look at this.

PROTESTERS:

Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—universities, the torch-wielding white nationalists coming face to face—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—a demonstration by white nationalists at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

PROTESTERS:

White lives matter! White lives matter! White lives matter! White lives matter! White lives matter!

JOSHUA GREEN:

What you had in Charlottesville was the "alt-right" people, many of them marching in Trump’s name.

MALE PROTESTER:

This is Trump's America!

JOSHUA GREEN:

We could see them marching with torches and it looked like something out of Nazi Germany.

NARRATOR:

Neo-Nazis and white nationalist protesters were forming, protesting plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

DAVID DUKE:

Hi, how y’all doin’?

NARRATOR:

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised President Trump.

DAVID DUKE:

We are determined to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump.

NARRATOR:

Also arriving, counterprotesters determined to confront the white nationalists.

MALE COUNTERPROTESTER:

This is what they represent!

COUNTERPROTESTERS:

No fascist USA. No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA!

WESLEY LOWERY:

Charlottesville was a clash between these forces—the forces of these far-right groups and then counterprotesters, folks who say, "Why are there Nazis in our streets? We’re going to get them out."

NARRATOR:

Armed right-wing militia arrived. Hour by hour, the tensions grew.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Violent clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters broke out earlier today—

WESLEY LOWERY:

We see time and time again videos of the far-right protesters beating black attendees of the counterprotest.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Charlottesville under siege—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—as police in riot gear try to restore calm.

NARRATOR:

And then, the unthinkable.

FEMALE BYSTANDER:

Holy [expletive]! Holy [expletive]!

WESLEY LOWERY:

A man drives his vehicle into the crowd, killing Heather Heyer and wounding others. This was an incident that was clearly the tail of these far-right, white supremacist powers emboldened and out of control.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Panic and horror in Charlottesville. A car slams into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white supremacy protest—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

A woman was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd, injuring 19 others—

NARRATOR:

Trump watched the violence. His response at this explosive moment would be crucial to both sides of the divide.

JONATHAN MARTIN, The New York Times:

When this happens, the instinct of most presidents would be heal, unify, mourn. But that’s not what he wants to do; it’s not his impulse. But he has to say something.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

But we're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.

ANNIE KARNI, Politico, 2015-18:

He had prepared remarks that he was going to read, condemning the violence in Charlottesville.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.

ANNIE KARNI:

The words "many sides" were ad-libbed and added by Trump. They were not in his prepared remarks.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you very much. Thank you.

NARRATOR:

The ad-lib immediately provoked an uproar.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—struggled to shore up the president’s equivocal response to Charlottesville.

CHARLIE DENT:

That didn’t go over very well because it was clear that one side seemed to initiate this altercation. It was the nationalists, these white nationalists. They were largely responsible for the violence.

NARRATOR:

Arriving in New York City, the president faced a firestorm.

MALE NEWSREADER:

When the president won’t stand with you against Klansmen who showed up with guns—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Initially, he didn’t respond explicitly condemning right-wing—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

That's how neo-Nazis see President Trump. They are clapping for him.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

I think he is making very clear who and what he is.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—talks like a white supremacist, it's likely a white supremacist.

NARRATOR:

Some advisers wanted Trump to apologize, but not Steve Bannon.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—not a tough call for most politicians, and so if you can’t—

STEVE BANNON:

This is where various elements in the White House, in the West Wing, get in his ear about trying to get him to do something that is not in his wheelhouse, not in the way he rolls.

You can't do that. Let Trump be Trump. The nation voted for it. It is what it is. It's just not—if you try to do it, it'll be phony and everybody can smell the phoniness.

NARRATOR:

Trump kept it going.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the "alt-right"? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

ANNIE KARNI:

He’s so fiery and he’s so angry, and he’s really getting in personal back-and-forth with members of the press.

FEMALE REPORTER:

Sir—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

You know, as far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute! I’m not finished! I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.

McKAY COPPINS, Author, "The Wilderness":

We saw Trump completely unbound from convention, tradition, even democratic norms, I would say, and just fully speaking his mind in an unfiltered and I think to a lot of people unnerving way.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it, either. And—and—and if you reported it accurately, you would say.

MALE REPORTER:

Sir—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Excuse me, they didn't put themselves down as—and you had some very bad people in that group. You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I'm a reporter who has reported on race for a long time, and I never would have imagined the person in the office of the president calling people who go to a Nazi rally "very fine people."

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? Thank you all very much. Thank you.

MALE REPORTER:

What about the Nazis who support you?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

It’s probably the first time where the country realizes this is going to get bad. And it is the beginning of a time in America where people realize that America is not just a place where racist ideals can exist, but it's a place where racist ideals can be fueled by the White House.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

—tremendously positive impact on race relations.

PETER BAKER:

He is about division. His presidency is predicated on that. He wants division; he craves it. He enjoys finding seams and driving right into them. There's no fight he doesn't want to be part of, and there are plenty of fights he'd like to start. The fight is the goal. It's—there's no reward from his point of view in unity. There's a reward in fighting.

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump is being criticized by fellow Republicans for being too—

NARRATOR:

Some Republicans broke ranks and came out against him.

MALE VOICE [reading Sen. Jerry Moran tweet]:

White supremacy, bigotry and racism have absolutely no place in our society, and no one—especially POTUS—should ever tolerate it.

MALE VOICE [reading Sen. Marco Rubio tweet]:

Mr. President, you can’t allow white supremacists to share only part of blame.

MALE VOICE [reading Sen. John McCain tweet]:

There’s no moral equivalency between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, R-Ariz., 2013-19:

I reacted in a way that most of my colleagues did as well: that this was not where a president should be. This was a layup. This was easy. If there’s white supremacy in any form, you condemn it. I mean, that’s the easy thing to do. And he didn’t. And I thought, "Oh, man. That’s really drilling down on the base."

JUDY WOODRUFF:

With that statement it sent a signal to some of the most intolerant elements in the country—in our country, American citizens who are racist—that he was listening to them, that he respected that point of view, that he wasn’t going to walk away from them. And that’s been a lasting message that’s been out there.

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump is holding a Make America Great Again rally in—

NARRATOR:

President Trump had been compiling an enemies list—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—for a campaign-style event tonight—

NARRATOR:

The media—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—getting ready for tens of thousands of supporters—

NARRATOR:

—the FBI and now Republicans who weren’t sufficiently loyal.

DAN BALZ:

If you’re an elected Republican, Donald Trump has made it clear that if you go against him, he’s going to go against you, and you will pay a price for that. And we saw it in any number of individual cases, and it doesn’t take very many of those. I mean, all it takes are two or three of those cases for people to get the message that there is enormous risk if you go against the president.

NARRATOR:

One example: Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who had emerged as a Trump critic.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I’m thrilled to be back in Phoenix, in the great state of Arizona.

NARRATOR:

As always, Trump would attack, rallying his base against Flake.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

They all said, "Please, Mr. President, don’t mention any names." So I won’t. I won’t!

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, Former Trump campaign manager:

It’s about going back to the base to demonstrate how popular it is to be with the president, particularly in Jeff’s own state.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

And nobody wants me to talk about your senator, who’s weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won’t talk about him! No, I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn’t it? Very presidential.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

When the president of the United States rolls in and you have a rally that has thousands of people in it, Jeff pays attention.

CROWD:

Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!

DAN BALZ:

For Donald Trump, everything is about Donald Trump. You're either for Donald Trump or you are against Donald Trump. And he wants to encourage everybody to see it his way, so he steps into all of these and makes his voice heard and makes his muscle felt.

NARRATOR:

It was effective. Flake’s own voters turned on him.

JEFF FLAKE:

I think he knew at that time that I was out of step with a lot of the Republican base, that he represented more of their feelings than I did.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We will make America great again! Thank you, Arizona, God bless you. Thank you, thank you.

NARRATOR:

Flake understood what it meant: His Senate career was over.

MALE PRESIDING OFFICER:

The senator from Arizona.

JEFF FLAKE:

I decided to pull the pin. None of my colleagues knew it at that point. I told a few of them, "You may want to come to the floor."

But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. The impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

JOSHUA GREEN:

I think there was relief among a lot of members of the Republican Party that finally somebody was coming out in the open and saying this, because on some level, this is what most of them felt, and they’d been afraid to say it. They’d been afraid because they were afraid of Donald Trump; they’d been afraid because they were afraid that his base would defeat them in the party primary the next time they were up for the election.

NARRATOR:

As Flake walked off the floor, he left the other Republicans with a choice.

DAN BALZ:

He’s basically drawing a line: "If we are going to be a successful conservative party, we have got to turn away from what Donald Trump is doing to us and the way he is leading us." It’s kind of a moment of truth for the Republican Party. What kind of party is this going to be? Who’s going to lead this party?

NARRATOR:

But Flake soon discovered there would be no Republican insurrection.

SUSAN DAVIS:

There isn’t a rush to stick up for Jeff Flake or side with him. Everyone just kind of stays on the sidelines and wants to stay out of it. When you would talk to someone—"What did you think about Jeff Flake?" "Oh, I didn’t see what you said"; "I missed it"; "I was in a meeting." There wasn’t much ruminating on his decision.

STEVE SCHMIDT:

We have a guts and courage crisis in American politics. We have politicians who go to great effort to get elected to go to Washington, not to fight for great principles or causes but to see who can be the best bootlicker.

NARRATOR:

The president had won.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

Jeff Flake thought he was going to raise his profile to the point where he would have an opportunity to be something bigger than what he is. And what happened? He made a terrible calculation. He went against Donald Trump, who’s a proven winner, and now Jeff is a guy who also used to be a U.S. senator.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Breaking news: Two more GOP congressmen announcing that they will not seek reelection in the 2018—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—President Trump from two Republican senators calling it quits—

NARRATOR:

In time, more than 40 other Republicans would leave.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—of more than a dozen Republicans who decided—

STEVE SCHMIDT:

In the Trump era, there’s no room for disagreement. The era where the senators, the members of Congress, asserted their prerogatives, their power, would stand up to a president, seems largely to be over in the United States today.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

It looks like President Trump is going to get his Christmas wish.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—the most sweeping rewrite of our tax code moves closer to—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—the first legislative win for President Trump—

NARRATOR:

Trump’s dominance would culminate in front of the cameras in the Rose Garden.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—the most sweeping tax overhaul in three decades.

NARRATOR:

It was a ceremony for the passage of his first major piece of legislation, a tax cut.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—a major victory for President Donald Trump—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

It's really—I guess it’s very simple, when you think you haven’t heard this expression, but we are making America great again. You haven’t heard that, have you?

NARRATOR:

One by one, congressional leaders, some he’d previously ridiculed—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Mitch, how about you start it?

NARRATOR:

—came forward to praise President Trump.

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL, R-Ky.:

Well, let me just say, Mr. President, you made the case for the tax bill, but this has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration. We've cemented the Supreme Court right of center for a generation. You've ended the overregulation of the American economy. Thank you, Mr.

President, for all you’re doing.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

What the Republican establishment now know is Donald Trump is unequivocally the leader of the Republican Party. He is the one who sets the tone of what takes place in Washington. He is the leader of our country, both politically and from a legislative side of things.

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis.:

Something this big could have not been done without exquisite presidential leadership. Mr.

President, thank you for getting us over the finish line. Thank you for getting us where we are.

SUSAN GLASSER, The New Yorker:

Donald Trump has conflated Republican Party loyalty with loyalty to himself to an extreme degree, and has been remarkably successful over the last several years in what amounts to really a hostile takeover of the Republican Party that was actually quite united against him in 2016.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Orrin, say a few words, please?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-Utah:

Mr. President, I have to say that you’re living up to everything I thought you would. You’re one heck of a leader, and we’re all benefiting from it. And we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever. God bless all of you.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Whoa! Paul Ryan just said, "How good was that!"

DAN BALZ:

In essence, this became Trump’s Republican Party. The testimony that people gave there is hard to take back. Orrin Hatch, for example. But McConnell and Ryan and others who gave Trump an enormous amount of credit, that created a unity within the Republican Party that had not existed.

CHARLIE SYKES, Author, "How the Right Lost Its Mind":

This was a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, and Trump won. There’s no question about it. And it’s not so much that Trump took over the Republican Party; it’s that the Republican Party completely capitulated to him. They’re all united in believing that in order to survive politically, and not lose in a primary, they have to stick as close to him as possible. Even when he puts out racist tweets, you cannot criticize him in public. Even when he engages in the most reckless behavior, you cannot break with him in public.

NARRATOR:

Trump had brought divisive politics to the presidency, the Congress, and it would even extend to the Supreme Court.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

It is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Supreme Court showdown as Democrats are promising to fight President Trump—

MALE NEWSREADER:

The battle is on. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh made the rounds on Capitol Hill—

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.:

Now is the time to fight!

MALE NEWSREADER:

Now some Democrats have already come out in total opposition to—

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-Conn.:

You don’t belong in this building as a justice.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D-Calif.:

Pay attention to this, guys. Pay attention.

TED OLSON, Solicitor general, G.W. Bush:

If he’s confirmed he’ll be on the court for 25 to 30 years. That’s six presidential terms. That is a key vote.

PETER BAKER:

Trump sees courts as just another political body. You know, he refers to judges, he refers to an Obama judge or a Bush judge or a Trump judge. You know, you might as well put a "D" or an "R" after their names. He doesn't see judges as being independent figures. He sees them as just an extension of the political battles.

NARRATOR:

The nomination was immediately polarizing, igniting partisan warfare in the Judiciary Committee.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-Iowa:

Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of Judge—

KAMALA HARRIS:

Mr. Chairman.

CHUCK GRASSLEY:

—Brett Kavanaugh—

KAMALA HARRIS:

Mr. Chairman.

CHUCK GRASSLEY:

—to serve as associate justice—

KAMALA HARRIS:

Mr. Chairman, I’d like to—

NARRATOR:

Cable news coverage packaged and projected to each side of the divide.

CHUCK GRASSLEY:

You are out—you are out of order. I’ll proceed.

KAMALA HARRIS:

We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman, with this hearing.

CHUCK GRASSLEY:

I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh—

KAMALA HARRIS:

We have not been given an opportunity—

SEN. CORY BOOKER, D-N.J.:

Mr. Chairman, I appeal to the chair to recognize myself or one of my colleagues.

CHUCK GRASSLEY:

You’re out of order.

CORY BOOKER:

Mr. Chairman, I appeal to be recognized on your sense of decency and integrity—

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL:

Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn.

CHUCK GRASSLEY:

—the American people—

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL:

Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.

PROTESTER 1:

This is a mockery and a travesty of justice. This is a travesty of justice. We will not go back.

Cancel Brett Kavanaugh. Adjourn the hearing.

PROTESTER 2:

You should have been a hero! Be a hero! Cancel this hearing! Senator!

NARRATOR:

Then, a shocking allegation that would feed the conflict.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The woman’s name is Christine Blasey Ford.

NARRATOR:

They told him his nominee was in trouble.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—a worst-case scenario for Kavanaugh and his defenders.

NARRATOR:

The allegations consumed the nation.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Christine Blasey Ford described Kavanaugh as stumbling drunk at a Maryland house party in the 1980s—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Both say they’re willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that committee has said—

NARRATOR:

The Trump strategy: Make it TV drama. Play to the base.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

Tonight, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh breaks his silence for the first time.

NARRATOR:

The network: Fox.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I—

NARRATOR:

The performance, however, was not vintage Trump.

JANE MAYER:

Trump’s idea is if somebody ever hits you, hit them back twice as hard. And instead, he’s got Brett Kavanaugh talking about how long he stayed a virgin after he was in college. It was embarrassing and not especially effective.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

Through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

That’s correct.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

And it's through what years in college, since we’re probing into your personal life here?

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

Many years, many years after. I’ll leave it at that. Many years after.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

When you look at how all of this, where all this generated from—

NARRATOR:

Kavanaugh decided to hold back.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

—where’s this all coming from?

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

I just want a fair process where I can be heard.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

You don’t have any thoughts on what's—where this is coming from?

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

I just want an opportunity, a fair process where I can defend my integrity.

MARTHA MacCALLUM:

And you were a virgin.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

That’s correct.

PETER BAKER:

Trump wanted him to get out there and fight back. He wanted him to be outraged; he wanted him to show anger and resolve, and this was communicated to Judge Kavanaugh.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

To say that everything that could have gone wrong for Brett Kavanaugh has is an understatement.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The impetus is on Judge Kavanaugh. They did not have the votes in the Senate—

NARRATOR:

By the time Kavanaugh testified, he had received Trump's message: launch an “us versus them” attack.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE, D-S.D., Former Senate majority leader:

There was only one person that mattered. It wasn’t the committee. It wasn’t the American people. It was the president of the United States watching to see whether that nomination would be pulled.

President Trump even noted he was going to be watching the testimony.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

Your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK:

He gives a performance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that is basically a Donald Trump impression.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. But you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.

NARRATOR:

Right out of Trump’s playbook, Kavanaugh made it political—

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit.

NARRATOR:

—dredging up a name sure to inflame: the Clintons.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

—revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

JANE MAYER:

It has become this completely politicized drama. He turned it into a huge fight between Democrats and Republicans. He’s trying to rally all the Republicans to his side.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, Trump adviser:

The president appreciates people who stand up for themselves and for what they believe and don't allow the politically correct police—or, in this case, accusers—stop them or thwart them or impede them. And the president would tell you, he knows a thing or two about that.

MALE VOICE [reading Trump tweet]:

His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting. Democrats' search and destroy strategy is disgraceful.

TED OLSON:

We’ve taken the idea of judicial independence, judicial neutrality, and we’ve discredited that in the eyes of the American people. What are the American people supposed to think if they watched four days of reality theater, where people are giving speeches and pounding the table and throwing down pieces of paper and saying things like that? It’s very damaging to an institution that I have great respect for, and I hate to see this happen.

BRETT KAVANAUGH:

I have to say that I fear for the future.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

Hashtag "me too." [Laughter]

FEMALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

It’s never OK to try to rape somebody—not even in high school, [Laughter] not even if you’re totally going to become a Supreme Court justice.

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

—any experts think he has a shot, to which Kavanaugh replied, "A shot? Yeah, I’ll take a shot." [Laughter]

MALE LATE-NIGHT COMEDIAN:

It feels like they’re doing this just to deliver a f--- you to Democrats and even more directly a f--- you to women, because when this—

NARRATOR:

Soon, across the divide, a gathering storm. Democrats roaring back, taking over the House of Representatives, intensifying the partisanship in Washington.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Quite a dramatic night. Voters have decided on significant—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—won the House of Representatives, they have 229—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Even after Democrats flip the House—

MALE NEWSREADER:

House Democrats are already preparing for battle.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—lawmakers set to use their powerful—

RONALD BROWNSTEIN:

You have a Democratic Party that is as dominant as it’s ever been in metro America, a Republican Party that is as dominant as it has ever been in non-metro America. And what this produces is two Americas that are separate not only in their partisan affiliation, but in pretty much everything.

Trump didn’t create this—we’ve been heading in this direction for years. But he leaned into it. And everything he has done has deepened this trench.

NARRATOR:

Now, a new level of confrontation, up close and in full view of the television cameras.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

OK, thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have Nancy Pelosi with us and Chuck Schumer with us. And we’ve—

PETER BAKER:

Trump loves an enemy. So the advantage of the House flipping is now he has one. He has someone to blame other than Republicans if things don’t get done. Wall not being built? That’s because of the Democrats. Immigrants coming over the border? That’s because of the Democrats.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif.:

Sixty people of the Republican Party have lost their—are losing their offices—

PETER BAKER:

He’s now got this foil that he likes to use in public.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We gained in the Senate. Nancy, we’ve gained in the Senate. Excuse me, did we win the Senate? We won the Senate.

CHUCK SCHUMER:

When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

I did. We did. We did win North Dakota and Indiana.

NANCY PELOSI:

Let me say this—let me say this. This is the most unfortunate thing. We came in here in good faith, and we’re entering into this kind of discussion in the public view.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

But it’s not bad, Nancy. It’s called transparency.

NANCY PELOSI:

I know, there's not transparency—

MATT BAI:

He’s carrying on, and Pelosi keeps trying to sort of get it to stop, like, "Do we need to do this in front of the cameras?"

NANCY PELOSI:

Let’s call a halt to this. We have come in here in good faith—

MATT BAI:

I thought that moment demonstrated for me what he understood about his presidency and the modern presidency that a lot of Democrats and that a lot of Republicans do not. I mean, this is where—Trump understands entertainment. He understands television.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now, and I understand that.

MATT BAI:

The best moments of him of his presidency are when he is breaking through the artifice of Washington.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

But we have to have border security.

NANCY PELOSI:

Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.

MATT BAI:

To Pelosi or to Schumer, yelling at each other in front of cameras and the American public is seeing you behave like children, that’s just—it’s humiliating, and it’s beneath the dignity of the office and their offices. But to him, that’s winning, because that's—that is showing people, "I’m not standing for the stagecraft here."

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you very much, everybody.

FEMALE AIDE:

Thanks, guys. Thank you.

NARRATOR:

In the months that followed, the political conflict would escalate.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

He pressured Ukraine's government to assist Trump's reelection campaign—

MALE NEWSREADER:

The president pressured Ukraine's leader about eight times, eight times—

NANCY PELOSI:

Today I'm announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.

NARRATOR:

Democrats, activated and angry.

NANCY PELOSI:

The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Democrats are zeroing in on a framework for their impeachment case—

MALE NEWSREADER:

A deeply divided moment is playing out in American history as we come on the air.

WESLEY LOWERY:

What we know is that our nation has two mobilized movements, that there remains a fundamental fault line in our populace and in our population. We’re not going back to politics as usual.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

An impeachment is the only option.

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump continues to attack top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and—

NARRATOR:

Trump, amplifying “us versus them.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

The absolutely crazed lunatics, the Democrats, radical left and their media partners standing right back there are pushing the deranged impeachment witch hunt for doing nothing wrong.

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump is firing back and drawing widespread criticism for likening himself to the victim of a lynching.

PROTESTERS:

Impeach! Remove! Impeach! Remove!

JUDY WOODRUFF:

Today there’s just a lack of respect and a willingness to ascribe the worst motives; to assume the other side is not just the opponent, political opponent, but the enemy; the guy who needs to be not just vanquished, but eliminated.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage; they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable. It’s not going to happen.

CHARLIE SYKES:

The damage of this is going to be long-term, and I think it’s going to be very, very deep. What have we been willing to accept that we weren’t willing to accept before? How do we think about each other? How do we think about being an American? How do we treat one another? What are our standards? And that's—I think the damage is potentially going to be very deep.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump sending a scathing letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding she "immediately cease this impeachment fantasy."

NARRATOR:

An historic vote: impeachment.

NANCY PELOSI:

Those in favor say “aye.”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS:

Aye!

NANCY PELOSI:

Those opposed, “nay.”

HOUSE REPUBLICANS:

No!

NANCY PELOSI:

The ayes have it. The ayes have it.

MALE NEWSREADER:

We saw what is a very bitterly divided America on display, virtually every Democrat voting for impeachment—

NARRATOR:

A standoff.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—every Republican voting against it.

NARRATOR:

Feeding the anger, the outrage, the division.

NANCY PELOSI:

Those in favor, say “aye.”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS:

Aye!

FRANK LUNTZ:

We were far more divided in the Civil War, far more divided during the Great Depression. But we've always had hope in the future. And that hope, we're losing it with this division.

MALE NEWSREADER:

And all of the debates and all of the hearings hasn’t seemed to budge anybody very much.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

President Donald Trump is impeached. The vote in the House of Representatives—

NARRATOR:

And soon, the election.

DAN BALZ:

This country goes into 2020 as divided as it’s ever been. It will go through 2020 with one of the most divisive campaigns we’ve probably ever seen. And it is likely to come out at the end of 2020 still divided. And whether the next president, whether it’s Donald Trump for a second term or whoever is the Democratic nominee, whether they can move us past that I think is the biggest single question for the next presidency. And I think based on everything we’ve seen, not just over the last few years, but over the last decade or more, tells us how enormously difficult that’s going to be.

54:48
Targeting El Paso
January 7, 2020