The Choice 2016

Posted on October 2, 2016


Transcript | View Film |


NARRATOR: This past July, Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination.

DONALD TRUMP: I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States! [cheers]

NARRATOR: It was a moment of vindication for a candidate who had climbed back from a bitter public humiliation.

NEWSCASTER: We’re talking about the White House correspondents dinner tonight. It’s an annual event right here—

NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump has been invited—

NARRATOR: It happened in April 2011 at one of Washington, D.C.’s, most glamorous nights.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT, The Apprentice: I got to talk to Donald as we were going to our seats, and he was in just such a great mood. And he was very jovial. And people were taking pictures. And you know, it was very exciting that Donald was there and—

NARRATOR: Trump’s invitation to the exclusive gathering came after weeks of attacking President Barack Obama on television.

DONALD TRUMP: You are not allowed to be a president if you’re not born in this country. He may not have been born in this country. But there’s something on that birth— maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a Muslim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that. Or he may not have one. But I will tell you this. If he wasn’t born in this country, it’s one of the great scams of all time.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely.

NARRATOR: But that night, in front of Washington’s journalists, politicians and power brokers, Obama would hit back.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN, Author, TrumpNation: President Obama takes the microphone.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: All right, everybody. Please have a seat. Donald Trump is here tonight!

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: And proceeds to filet Donald publicly.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: 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]

GRAYDON CARTER, Editor, Vanity Fair: I was sitting 20 feet from him, and just the look of discomfort on his face—

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: What really happened in Roswell?   [laughter] And where are Biggie and Tupac? [laughter]

OMAROSA MANIGAULT: Donald’s face was so incredibly serious. It was so incredibly just— he just put on a poker face.

DAVID REMNICK, Editor, The New Yorker: 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.

Pres. 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 Meatloaf. [laughter] You fired Gary Busey. [laughter] And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. [laughter and applause]

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: And he’s being treated like a pinata by the president of the United States, and I think he felt humiliated.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: Well handled, sir! [laughter] Well handled.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT: 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.”

Pres. 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] [slide: “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”]

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO, Author, The Truth About Trump:   Donald dreads humiliation and he dreads shame. And this is why he often attempts to humiliate and shame other people. So in the case of the president ridiculing him, I think this was intolerable for Donald Trump.

ROGER STONE, Trump Political Adviser: 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, Trump ‘16 Campaign: 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.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. [applause]

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: Donald Trump’s fantasy is to be the guy who takes the key to the Oval Office from Barack Obama’s hand in 2017. And it’s personal. This is— this is a burning personal need that he has, to redeem himself from being humiliated by the first black president.

NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton had spent decades laying the groundwork for her candidacy.

HILLARY CLINTON: It is with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president of the United States! [cheers]

NARRATOR: Her entrance into politics had been difficult, marked by questions of just who she was.

Jan. 9, 1979

NEWSCASTER: What kind of plans have you made to be first lady of Arkansas?

HILLARY RODHAM: Well, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the kinds of work that we want to do—

NARRATOR: In Little Rock, the new first lady, Hillary Rodham, was a curiosity.

HILLARY RODHAM: We haven’t made any final plans. We hope to—

LINDA BLOODWORTH-THOMASON, Friend: Hillary, when she first got there, everybody makes such a big deal out of her hippie flowered pants and her big, you know, strange glasses and her crazy hair.

NEWSCASTER: Could it be that you have political aspirations of your own?

HILLARY RODHAM: No. I just think it’s— I don’t have any, except for my husband, who I think is a terrific politician and a wonderful man.

NEWSCASTER: Arkansas has a new governor—

ROBERT REICH, Friend: And they looked like they were having a ball. I mean, it was really a heady experience. These were young people. They were the governor and first lady.

NEWSCASTER: The youngest governor in the United States now, young Governor Clinton of the State of Arkansas—

NARRATOR: But Hillary’s approach to her new role was seen as unconventional. She kept her maiden name and had her own career as a corporate lawyer.

JIM BLAIR, Friend: She didn’t want women to be accessories to their husband, and that is usually what a political wife is, is an accessory to her husband. And it didn’t fit well.

NEWSCASTER: The thought occurs to me that you really don’t fit the image that we have created for the governor’s wife in Arkansas. You’re not a native. You’ve been educated in liberal Eastern universities. You’re less than 40. You don’t have any children. You don’t use your husband’s name. You practice law.

Does it concern you that maybe other people feel that you don’t fit the image that we have created for the governor’s wife in Arkansas?

HILLARY RODHAM: No, because each person should be assessed and judged on, you know, that person’s own merits.

GAIL SHEEHY, Author, Hillary’s Choice: The Southerners just really rejected this, you know, uppity woman from, you know, the East Coast, and she doesn’t dress right, she doesn’t talk right, she doesn’t— her hair isn’t right. You know, she’s just no credit. She’s not a Southern governor’s wife.

NEWSCASTER: We now have a clarification in the state of Arkansas—

NARRATOR: The governor’s term was only two years, and before he knew it, Bill Clinton was out.

NEWSCASTER: —projected the winner over the incumbent Democrat, Bill Clinton.

NEWSCASTER: This political defeat has been a bitter pill to swallow for Bill Clinton.

BILL CLINTON: I regret that I will not have two more years to serve as governor because I have loved it.

DAVID MARANISS, Author, First in His Class: And here, Bill Clinton defeated and to be rendered a beaten pair at that age, was pretty devastating.

BILL CLINTON: Thank you very much, and God bless you all. [applause]

NARRATOR: Hillary, with their new daughter, Chelsea, took it hard.

JOE KLEIN, TIME: She understood that she was part of the reason for him losing the governor’s race because she wouldn’t take his name and just because of the way she was.

NARRATOR: Hillary decided to fight. She took charge of her husband’s political comeback.

ROBERT REICH: Hillary got very involved in the campaign. For all intents and purposes, she was the campaign manager.

NARRATOR: One of her first moves, rebrand herself and become “Mrs. Clinton.”

ROBERT REICH: It was symbolic. I’m sure she had to swallow hard. But it was just not worth trying to keep her last name at the expense of everything they wanted to achieve together.

HILLARY CLINTON: In order to avoid any problem and just to put it to rest, I will forever be known as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

GAIL SHEEHY: She completely forfeited her own identity, at least physically, got rid of the glasses, got her hair dyed started dressing at least modestly better, wore some makeup, cultivated a little bit of a drawl.

HILLARY CLINTON: The road to being somebody in this society starts with education.

NARRATOR: The transformation was a surprise to some of those who had known her the longest.

NANCY WANDERER, Wellesley Classmate: When she had to begin to change her appearance— dye her hair, lose a lot of weight, get rid of her glasses, not speak up, not be as much who she was— that hurt all of us. We all felt bad about that. It was— it was hard. It was hard on us. It was hard on her.

NARRATOR: She formed an alliance with a controversial political consultant from New York, Dick Morris.

DICK MORRIS, Political Operative: She has a wonderful instinct for the jugular. She felt that he lost it because he wasn’t tough enough, wasn’t strong enough. And she reached out to me because she felt that I would be stronger and tougher.

DAVID MARANISS: I think it only intensified and began a lot of the characteristics that you saw from then on, that the ends justify the means, that we’ll do what we have to do to win, turn to the dark arts of politics to survive.

NARRATOR: Hillary helped engineer a comeback that returned her husband to the governorship and put her in the national spotlight for the next 34 years.

NEWSREEL: This is New York, a miracle city, a city of tall buildings, narrow dark streets, magnificent parks, broad avenues, homes and schools, stores and theaters and palatial hotels.

NARRATOR: Back in the 1940s—

NEWSREEL: —the borough of Queens occupying part of Long Island—-

NARRATOR: —just across the East River from Manhattan—

NEWSREEL: —an electrical railway system spreads through four of the five boroughs—

NARRATOR: —Donald Trump grew up in a posh suburb called Jamaica Estates.

NEWSREEL: —is perhaps typical of New York’s residential areas.

MARIE BRENNER, _Vanity Fair: The Trump family had a huge house in Queens that they used to refer to as “Tara.” It had nine bedrooms. It had columns. It was quite beautiful, but it was in Queens.

NARRATOR: The Trump family would spend 50 years building memories here. Fred Trump, a real estate developer, designed the house himself and raised Donald and his brothers and sisters in luxury.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: It’s not like he knew anything but comfort. When it rained and he had to deliver his papers, the chauffeur would take him around.

NARRATOR: But Donald’s father was tough and insisted everyone learn the family business.

GWENDA BLAIR, Author, The Trumps: He was a guy who worked seven days a week. It’s Sunday, why wouldn’t you be working?   And would— even on the weekends, would pile the kids in the car and go to a building site, pick up old nails that weren’t used. Why would you waste a nail?

LOUISE SUNSHINE, Friend: Fred Trump was a machine. I mean, he was a human machine. He was driven beyond whatever the description of driven could ever mean. And when you look at the picture of Fred and you look at Donald, you see the great resemblance between the two. And when you think about Fred’s energy, you see how it is channeled through Donald.

NARRATOR: Fred was seen as passionate about the business but not warm with his children.

SANDY McINTOSH, Classmate: Cold. He was not a warm person. I’d see his father at the beach, even, with a suit and a tie and a hat, a clipped, very kind of military mustache, and simply being correct.

NARRATOR: Fred had theories. He shared them with his kids. Donald especially liked one of them.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO, Author, The Truth About Trump: This is a very deep part of the Trump story. The family subscribes to a race horse theory of human development, that they believe that there are superior people, and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get superior offspring.

NARRATOR: Fred’s other theory— life was a competition. There were winners and there were losers. He called the winners “killers.”

TONY SCHWARTZ, Co-author, The Art of the Deal: The way the game got played in his household was, if you did not win, you lost. And losing was you got crushed. Losing was you didn’t matter. Losing was you were nothing.

NARRATOR: Donald took the lessons to heart, always tried to be the winner. But he was also a handful.

MARIE BRENNER: His brother, Robert, who’s very discreet, told me that Donald was always the kid in the family who would start throwing birthday cake at all the parties, that you would build up a tower of blocks, he would come knock your blocks down.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: This is the person he’s been, I think, since he was 5 years old. Donald told me that he is essentially the person he was in the 1st grade and that he hasn’t really changed.

TONY SCHWARTZ: His self-definition was built around the idea that he was one tough son of a bitch. That meant in classrooms, that meant with teachers, that meant with his father.

NARRATOR: By the 7th grade, even Fred had had it with Donald’s mischief. He sent him up the Hudson River just a few miles from West Point to the toughest boarding school he could find, the New York Military Academy.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: You have to think of this 13-year old kid who’s lived a very comfortable life, but then, all of a sudden, he’s the one child of five to be banished to this austere life. Goodbye luxury. Goodbye mom and dad, brothers and sisters. Hello drill sergeant.

NARRATOR: The New York Military Academy was no-nonsense, heavy on the discipline, over the years home to the children of gangster John Gotti and Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

HARRY FALBER, Classmate: It was a very austere, very scary place. I was homesick. I was crying hysterically. They— in fact, I was crying so much the first couple of nights, they put me in the infirmary.

SANDY McINTOSH: We were in a culture of hazing at the military school. Everyone— I mean, that’s just the way it was.

HARRY FALBER You got hit, you may have gotten slammed against the wall, you got put artificially into fights.

NARRATOR: But the rough and tumble didn’t seem to bother Donald. He thrived.

GWENDA BLAIR, Author, The Trumps: He liked it. Apparently, he really liked it. He liked the accountability. He liked the kind of clarity of it. And he liked that there was a medal and a prize for everything.

NARRATOR: He was a star athlete. He claimed he could have played pro baseball. But his classmates agree he was proudest of winning the ultimate accolade in an all-boys school— he was named “Ladies’ Man” in the school yearbook.

Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, was a role model for many of the boys.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: Yeah, I— you know, he had a very Hugh Hefner Playboy magazine view of success.

NARRATOR: The young cadets learned a lot from Playboy magazine and what they called “barracks talk.”

SANDY MCINTOSH: In fact, our biggest advice in, you know, our lives came from Playboy magazine. That’s how we learned about women. That was all of my adolescence. And that’s why getting out of military school was difficult. You had to realize that you couldn’t just follow the Playboy philosophy.

NARRATOR: They would graduate and grow up, but Donald’s classmates say, in some ways, he hasn’t changed at all.

SANDY McINTOSH: The things that we talked about at that time in 1964 really are very close to the kind of way he talks now. I hear these echoes of the barracks life that we had and that we grew out of.

NARRATOR: Back when Donald Trump was growing up in Queens, Hillary Rodham was living a short train commute from downtown Chicago.

GAIL SHEEHY: Hugh and Dorothy Rodham moved from Chicago, the tough city, into the all-white new suburb of 1950s America.

ERNEST RICKETTS, Friend: And I remember men walking home from work from the train station with their cigarettes dangling and their Chicago American evening newspaper under their arm.

NARRATOR: They called Park Ridge “an idyllic American suburb.” Hillary has said her life was straight out of the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best.

TV ANNOUNCER: The story of a man, his home and his family, starring Robert Young—

NARRATOR: But the truth was much more complicated. Inside the Rodham family, Hillary’s father, Hugh, was a staunchly conservative and demanding presence.

JIM BLAIR, Friend: Hugh and Hillary always had a relationship that had its difficulties. Hillary goes to school and makes straight As, and he says, “That must be a really easy school if you got straight As”— I mean, gets no credit for her effort, no credit for her work.

NARRATOR: With Hillary’s, mom, Dorothy, the treatment was worse.

CARL BERNSTEIN, Author, A Woman in Charge: Her father was abusive verbally, and dismissive when her mother and father would have these tense, demeaning discussions. And Hillary would run to her room and put her hands over her ears and say, “I can’t stand listening to this.”

GAIL SHEEHY: There was a lot of fighting in the Rodham household, and I don’t think she invited many friends home. That’s when her whole penchant for secrecy and privacy began.

NARRATOR: Dorothy had had to overcome a difficult childhood of her own.

LINDA BLOODWORTH-THOMASON, Friend: I think the resilience of Dorothy Rodham, this little girl born to 16-year old parents who did not want her and did not love her— they never showed her any affection, never hugged her, never kissed her. And I think it would have defeated most people.

NARRATOR: Dorothy was determined to give Hillary a better life.

DAVID MARANISS, Author, First in His Class: I think that Dorothy was frustrated, like many, many women of that era. She had far more abilities, talents and intelligence than the world or her relationship with her husband allowed her to show, and I think that she poured a lot of that ambition into her daughter.

NARRATOR: Outside the home, in room 224 at Eugene Field elementary school, they saw that ambition early on. Betsy Ebeling became her best friend.

BETSY EBELING, Friend: I was the new girl in class, and somebody else in the classroom said to me, “You know, you’re very lucky. You’re sitting across from Hillary Rodham.” And I said, “Yeah, she seems very nice.” And she said, “No, she’s captain of the crossing guards.” So see, I knew then that she was destined for great things, captain of the crossing guards.

NARRATOR: But in the 1950s, her classmates believed a girl who was a star could only rise so high.

ERNEST RICKETTS: I remember our class prophecy in the 6th grade that Hillary would be married to a U.S. senator. Nobody could wrap their mind around a woman having that kind of achievement, you know?

NARRATOR: But the world of Hillary and her friends was changing. At the Methodist church, a new minister arrived.

CARL BERNSTEIN, Author, A Woman in Charge: A youth minister named Don Jones, then about 26 years old, arrives in a red Chevy Impala convertible and becomes really the most influential certainly male figure, almost as a counterweight to Hillary’s father.

BETSY EBELING: Don Jones was good-looking. He was young. It was just contrary to everything that we’d ever had in church, any church, right?

NARRATOR: In the conservative Republican community of Park Ridge, Jones was controversial, introducing Hillary and her youth group to progressive ideas. One Sunday, he did just that when he took them into downtown Chicago.

GAIL SHEEHY: And he took Hillary and some of her friends to hear Martin Luther King speak.

BETSY EBELING: It was at the Chicago Sunday Evening Club, you know, which was, still is at Symphony Hall in Chicago. You were dressed up. You know, you wore white gloves. And oh, yeah, you went down— it was a big- big event.

[Original recording]

Rev. MARTIN LUTHER KING: Indeed, a revolution is taking place in our world today. It is sweeping away an old order—

GAIL SHEEHY: Here’s this black man from the South who’s talking about segregation. She didn’t even know what segregation was.

Rev. MARTIN LUTHER KING: They came to realize that slavery and segregation were strange paradoxes in a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal.

NARRATOR: Betsy says she and Hillary would never forget the moment.

BETSY EBELING: There was something very deep inside Martin Luther King that is not just moving but life-altering. And the words that came out were so profoundly affecting that you left feeling more fulfilled in many ways and more empty in many ways than you had before.

Rev. MARTIN LUTHER KING: The old order is passing away. A new order is coming into being. God grant that we will use the moment.

NARRATOR: As a young man, Donald Trump grew up hearing the gospel of success at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

GWENDA BLAIR, Author, The Trumps: The Marble Collegiate Church with Norman Vincent Peale as the minister—he preached the gospel of success. Success was not only OK, it was a really good idea and you should actually do it.

Rev. NORMAN VINCENT PEALE: The God who made this world was a wise God!

NARRATOR: Norman Vincent Peale had sold millions of copies of his book, The Power of Positive Thinking.

Rev. NORMAN VINCENT PEALE: He wants people who live life and like it, love it!

NARRATOR: The church was a place to be seen for leaders of business, socialites, politicians.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO, Author, The Truth About Trump: Donald’s father made sure to expose him to Norman Vincent Peale. It was consistent with his father’s ambition.

Rev. NORMAN VINCENT PEALE: How then can you face the future with confidence?

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: It elevates capitalism, honors wealth, wholly consistent with who Donald Trump wanted to be and who he became.

Rev. NORMAN VINCENT PEALE: —by being 100 percent alive!

MARC FISHER, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: Donald Trump learned this notion that through the power of positive thinking, you could focus your life on your business, and your achievements in the business world would be the measure of your success.

Rev. NORMAN VINCENT PEALE: You are endowed with the tremendous powers of God! And you may have trouble with it, but you can handle it!

NARRATOR: Following Peale’s method, Donald graduated from Wharton School of Finance and Commerce and joined the family real estate business as an apprentice to his father. It was a job Donald’s older brother — they called him Freddy — had once held and then lost.

GWENDA BLAIR: Fred, Junior, worked for his dad, but he showed little aptitude and really not that much interest in the business. He, by all accounts, tried, but he— it wasn’t him. He wasn’t hyper-aggressive. He wasn’t hyper-competitive.

NARRATOR: Unlike his father, Freddy was friendly and outgoing, but his dad thought he didn’t measure up.

GWENDA BLAIR: Maryanne, who was working for her father during the summers, told me that his father never praised Freddy. He was always— thought— he treated him like somebody who was a loser. His father had told the boys to be killers, but Freddy was never a killer.

NARRATOR: Freddy had always loved flying. He struck out on his own to pursue his dream. He became an airline pilot.

MARIE BRENNER, Vanity Fair: What Donald told me at the time was that he and his father had perhaps been way too hard on him. They used to say to him, because he was an airline pilot, “What’s the difference between what you do, Freddy, and driving a bus?”

NARRATOR: Freddy started to drink heavily.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: Fred, Junior, his death at a young age — he was in his 40s — was formative for Donald. And I think it was shocking for their family. He was a guy who struggled with alcoholism for a long time.

NARRATOR: For Donald, Freddy’s story was a lesson he would never forget. He said Freddy just wasn’t a killer.

TONY SCHWARTZ, Co-Author, The Art of the Deal: I think he saw his brother as being intimidated by his father. So he set himself out to be the very opposite of that with his father and with everybody else that he dealt with for the rest of his life.

NARRATOR: By the mid-1960s, Hillary Rodham was a student at Wellesley College.

CARL BERNSTEIN: She is now living a life that is not dictated by her parents, but is affected by what’s going on in America at the time.

WALTER CRONKITE, CBS News: Good Evening. Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of non-violence in the Civil Rights movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was standing on the balcony—

GAIL SHEEHY, Author, Hillary’s Choice: That was a huge event for her. And she came into her dorm room, she threw her handbag against the wall. She said, “I can’t stand it anymore! They’ve killed him. They’ve killed him.” “Who?” “Martin.”

Sen. ROBERT F. KENNEDY (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My thanks to all of you. And now it’s on to Chicago—

NARRATOR: Two months later, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. Then tensions over the Vietnam war erupted at the Democratic convention in downtown Chicago.

BETSY EBELING, Friend: Here’s this convention going on, right? And Hillary said, “We have to go see it.” And she and I told my— our mothers that we were going to the movies. And we drove my family station wagon downtown, parked. I had no idea where we parked. I had never driven downtown.

NARRATOR: Thousands of Chicago police confronted anti-war protesters. As Betsy and Hillary waded into the crowd, they saw an old high school friend.

BETSY EBELING She was there volunteering, patching up heads, and said, “You’ve got to be aware of this and everything that’s going on.” It was chaotic. It was mayhem. But it was also almost beautiful in its portrayal of—like, opened up this road and said, “This is where you’re going and this is why.”

She knew she was going to go back to Wellesley and she would find people of like thinking, of, “This war has to end.”

NEWSCASTER: Police are now pushing and shoving! Here they come. Now they’re clubbing this young man—

ROBERT REICH, Friend: She had become much more political, as frankly, had most of us. You couldn’t really go through those years and all the tumult in America and not be affected by it.

NARRATOR: One year later, her classmates selected Hillary the first student at Wellesley to give a commencement address. The Republican senator from Massachusetts, Edward Brooke, spoke first.

CARL BERNSTEIN: At the commencement, he gives a speech that is really kind of condescending.

NANCY WANDERER, Wellesley Classmate: Senator Brooke basically told us that the people who are protesting are kind of like elite ne’er-do-wells. So I can remember sitting in my seat just fuming! I mean, this is my college graduation, and I am just fuming. And you know, we’re just— all of us were just ready to pop.

GAIL SHEEHY: Hillary was scribbling notes all through his speech.

NANCY WANDERER: And all of a sudden, I looked up and Hillary Rodham is rising from her seat and walking to the podium.

DEAN: And it is a great pleasure to present to this audience Miss Hillary Rodham.

HILLARY RODHAM: I find myself in a familiar position, that of reacting, something that our generation has been doing for quite a while now.

NANCY WANDERER: And she he began with a complete, utterly articulate rebuttal of everything Senator Brooke had said. She was going to say what we all wanted to say.

HILLARY RODHAM: For too long, our leaders have viewed politics as the art of the possible. And the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.

NARRATOR: Her speech turned Hillary Rodham into a national celebrity. She was called “a voice of her generation.”

CARL BERNSTEIN: Life magazine picks it up and profiles her. And she likes the attention.

GAIL SHEEHY: That was probably the first time that Hillary felt what it would like to be a political leader. And she thought then, “Well, maybe I can someday be a larger figure on the political stage.”

NARRATOR: For Hillary, that meant law school. She applied and was accepted by one the nation’s top law schools, Yale.

DAVID MARANISS, Author, First in His Class: A lot of very ambitious people who wanted to change the course of American history were at Yale Law School in that period.

NARRATOR: Among them, her friend Robert Reich, Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton. They were all in Professor Thomas Emerson’s civil liberties class.

ROBERT REICH: I remember that every time Professor Emerson asked a question, Hillary was the first hand in the air. And when he called on her, she always got the answer exactly right. I was about the second or third hand in the air, and I half the time got the answer right. Bill Clinton missed most of the classes, as I remember. I think he was off doing political work. And Clarence Thomas never said a word.

Well, it was— it was sort of a kind of a metaphor for where we were all heading and what we all— how we all prioritized our lives.

NARRATOR: For the group at the law school, it seemed inevitable that one day, Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham would get together.

CARL BERNSTEIN, Author, A Woman in Charge: When they meet, Hillary’s the one who’s the celebrity. Hillary’s the one who’s been in Life magazine. Bill is dazzled.

DAVID MARANISS: Hillary from the beginning fell into the spell of Bill Clinton’s charisma, and Clinton saw in Hillary a woman who was his equal or better in terms of intelligence and ambition. And I think very early on in their relationship, they saw that they could get someplace together that they might not get to apart.

NARRATOR: But after graduating, a separation. Bill headed back home to Arkansas. Hillary took a job in Washington.

In the early 70s, Donald Trump headed out of Queens into Manhattan.

TONY SCHWARTZ: From the very first time I met Trump, I thought of Saturday Night Fever and Travolta. He was the kid who grew up as a outsider to where the real action was. And he was acutely aware of it. He always had his eye on what he thought was a glamorous, Hollywood-ish life, and that was the life of Manhattan.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN, Author, TrumpNation: I think if you had to pick sort of three stereotypes that are probably constantly tap dancing in Donald’s mind and in his imagination of himself, it’s Clint Eastwood, James Bond and Hugh Hefner.

ROGER STONE, Trump Political Adviser: He’s really spreading his wings when he comes to Manhattan. Well, I think he’s having the time of his life. He’s a bachelor. He’s an eligible bachelor.

NARRATOR: Donald frequented the city’s hottest places. He met Nikki Haskell, the host of an underground cable show about the party scene.

NIKKI HASKELL, Friend: When I saw Donald, nobody knew who he was. He was just a young, very aggressive, smart boy, hotshot so to speak, someone that had big dreams. And that’s what this town is built on.

NARRATOR: During the day, he worked hard to do something his father never did, break into Manhattan real estate.

TONY SCHWARTZ: He’s a kid who wants to figure out how to make deals, to figure out how to establish a presence for himself in Manhattan. And he’s right to believe that that’s not easy to do.

NARRATOR: He needed a mentor. He found one in Roy Cohn, the notorious New York lawyer.

BARBARA RES, VP, Trump Organization, 1980-92: Well, he was savage. Cohn had an incredible reputation for being a tough, tough guy.

NEWSCASTER: The scene is Washington and the Senate investigating sub-committee. Mr. Cohn, his friend and aide, was present with Senator McCarthy to answer accusations—

NARRATOR: Cohn had become famous during the McCarthy hearings, a witch hunt that accused Americans of communist sympathies.

MARIE BRENNER, Vanity Fair: He delighted in the fact that he had ruined so many lives in the McCarthy era.

ROY COHN: —detailed testimony in that, in the record, Mr. Chairman, of Lobisky’s association, close personal association with Julius Rosenberg over a period of years—

MARIE BRENNER: Roy Cohn humiliated people. He made up things. He had no morals. You couldn’t even say that he had the morals of a snake. He had no morals. He had no moral center.

NIKKI HASKELL: [“Nikki Haskell Show”] Everyone knows the most famous legal eagle, my pal and yours, Roy Cohn.

ROY COHN: Good evening, Nikki. How are you?

NIKKI HASKELL: Roy was like a street guy. You know, he was like, “Punch— you punch me, I’ll punch you.” And I think he made Donald very confrontational. And I think you had that sort of tough guy, don’t take any kind of, you know, [expletive deleted] from anybody, kind of an attitude. And I think a lot of that, you know, he instilled in Donald.

BARBARA RES, VP, Trump Organization, 1980-92: And in his drawer, he had a picture of Roy. And it was a grainy black and white picture, and Roy looked like the devil. And he would pull it out and he would say, “This is my lawyer. If we can’t make an agreement, this is who’s going to— who you’re going to be dealing with.”

NARRATOR: In 1973, Trump hired Cohn to defend him and his father. They had been sued by the federal government for discriminating against black renters looking for apartments in their buildings.

MICHAEL KRANISH, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: The lawsuit revealed that Trump agents allegedly were writing down C for colored or Number 9 to indicate a black prospective tenant, and those people were often turned away.

MARC FISHER, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: And Trump asked him for advice. “What do I do? Do I settle?” And Roy Cohn said, “Never settle.” Roy Cohn said, “You need to fight back harder than they ever hit you.”

NARRATOR: At a press conference and in court filings, Trump and Cohn claimed they were the victims.

GWENDA BLAIR: He comes right back with a $100 million lawsuit which was filed by Roy Cohn. And that was Roy Cohn’s signature kind of thing.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN, Author, TrumpNation: Roy Cohn taught Donald how to come out punching, how to use lawsuits like machine gun bullets, and take a no-prisoners approach to City Hall, to your business opponents, to anyone else who might get in your way. And I think Donald reveled in that.

NARRATOR: But with damning evidence of racial discrimination, the company was forced to settle. Nevertheless, Donald didn’t admit any wrongdoing and even declared the outcome a victory.

TONY SCHWARTZ: This is a classic example of where Trump begins to demonstrate something he talks about all the time today, which is he’s a counterpuncher. So somebody comes after him and says that he’s done something nefarious and horrible, and he just goes back at them with all guns blazing — you know, Boom, boom, boom! — and admits nothing. Never admit anything. Never say you made a mistake. Just keep coming. And if you lose, declare victory.

And that’s exactly what happened there. He lost as clearly as you can lose, but he loudly proclaimed his victory.

NARRATOR: Fresh from Yale Law School, Hillary Rodham arrived in Washington—

Sen. SAM ERVIN (D-NC), Watergate Committee Chairman: The committee will come to order—

NARRATOR: —a city gripped by political scandal. She was at the center of it, an attorney on the Watergate committee.

Sen. HOWARD BAKER (R), Tennessee: What did the president know, and when did he know it?

NARRATOR: As the committee dug into allegations of presidential crimes, Hillary and the other staff were sworn to secrecy.

GAIL SHEEHY, Author, Hillary’s Choice: Hillary was working on a committee where I think she probably learned a lot about secrecy and how you really needed to preserve it in political life more than anywhere else.

NARRATOR: Hillary worked in a secure location and was taught how to operate in complete secrecy.

NANCY BEKAVAC, Yale Classmate: We’d get together, and Hillary never said a word about anything. She said they were working really hard and they had lots of things to do. It was remarkable. They were remarkably close-mouthed.

NEWSCASTER: Good evening. President Nixon reportedly will announce his resignation—

NARRATOR: That summer, President Richard Nixon resigned.

NEWSCASTER: The president now at the door, a final wave—

NARRATOR: As the committee shut down, Hillary had a number of high-powered opportunities in Washington. But she had a secret of her own.

CARL BERNSTEIN, Author, A Woman in Charge: Lo and behold, she fails the D.C. bar exam and is devastated by it, hanging her head a bit at this terrible failure that she won’t speak about and doesn’t reveal. And she kept it a secret for 30 years.

NARRATOR: Hillary would write about her failure in her book , “Living History.”

HILLARY CLINTON, Living History: “When I learned that I had passed in Arkansas but failed in D.C., I thought that maybe my test scores were telling me something.”

NARRATOR: She said she believed it was a sign that she should move to Arkansas to be with Bill. She told her landlord and friend, Sarah Erhman, about her decision.

SARAH ERHMAN: She said, “I’m going to Arkansas to be with my boyfriend.” My reaction was very skeptical because she had a tremendous future ahead of her. She was a star. I thought, “She’s going down there to Arkansas? Nobody goes to Arkansas.” What— I said, “You’re not going to go down there. They don’t have French bread. They don’t have brie! What are you going to do down there?”

ROBERT REICH: She could have done anything with her life. She could have been a powerhouse in and of her own self in Washington, D.C., and yet she makes this very interesting and life-changing decision. She is going to be part of Bill Clinton’s political career.

SARAH ERHMAN: I said, “I’ll drive you. Get in the car and I’ll drive you.” We got to Fayetteville, and it was the Arkansas-Texas football day and the whole city was full of Arkansans wearing pig hats. Apparently, the pig is the mascot. And they were saying, “Sooie, sooie, pig, pig, pig.” And I began to cry. Very sad.

NARRATOR: Her friends from Yale law school couldn’t believe this was where Hillary was going to end up.

NANCY BEKAVAC: We go to this dinner in a church hall. We’re sitting there talking and jabbering and— and then Bill gets up to leave the table and he says, “Well, we’re going to go talk politics.” So I get up, and Hillary says, “Sit down.” And I said, “What?” She said, “The men go to talk politics.” And I looked around, and everyone left at the table were women. And I’m thinking, “Oh! Oh, this is really bad.” I said, “Hillary this is not— this is not good.”

NARRATOR: But Hillary decided to make Arkansas home, and in 1975, she married Bill.

DAVID MARANISS, Author, First in His Class: I think she was head over heels for Clinton. I really do. And I think she was also carrying in her heart an ambition that she and Bill and a lot of members of their generation could transform America. It was— I think it was that large.

NARRATOR: In the mid-1970s, Donald Trump lived the life of a playboy and made the rounds with one particular model, Ivana Zelnickova.

GWENDA BLAIR: It’s about wanting to come into a room and command all of the attention. What better way to do that than to have a six-foot-tall blond supermodel on your arm?

NARRATOR: Roy Cohn drew up the pre-nup, Norman Vincent Peale officiated, and Donald and Ivana were married. Trump also had his eye on real estate. He had looked all over Manhattan for the perfect location.

LOUISE SUNSHINE, VP, Trump Organization, 1973-85: And Donald came upon this site, which had the Bonwit Teller building on it. It was kind of a landmark building. It was next door to Tiffany’s. He loved it.

NARRATOR: It was to be called Trump Tower, 58 stories of high-end retail and high-priced condominiums, a chance for Donald to finally surpass his father.

To oversee the project, Trump surprised the construction world. He put a woman in charge.

BARBARA RES, VP, Trump Organization, 1980-92: He said that I would be his representative and act sort of like a “Donna Trump,” he said, calling me a “killer.” I would be in charge of everything that would normally come to him.

NARRATOR: The men’s world of unions and subcontractors in New York had never seen it before.

BARBARA RES: Donald told me that he thought that men were better than woman, especially in this field. But he said a good woman is better than 10 good men. I think he believed that women had to prove themselves more than men, so a good woman would work harder.

NARRATOR: Res kept the contractors in line, and executive vice president Louise Sunshine handled the sales.

LOUISE SUNSHINE: He hired the right people to help him, myself being one of them, and we got the job done.

NARRATOR: And Trump personally took care of the marketing.

TOM BROKAW, Co-Host, Today: Donald Trump, as I say, is just 33 years old. He now has an apartment for sale in a new Trump building called the Trump Tower. One floor of it, $11 million altogether. You’re worth all this money. You say you didn’t say that you want to be worth a billion dollars—

DONALD TRUMP: No, I really am not looking to make tremendous amounts of money. I’m looking to enjoy my life, and if that happens to go with it, that’s fabulous.

NARRATOR: And to help sell the apartments, Trump had a novel idea— he inflated the floor numbers. His 58-story building became a 68-story building.

BARBARA RES: How he got away with that, I’m not sure, but he did. And it made a lot of sense in his mind because if you’re renting a room, you’d rather be on the 14th floor than on the 6th floor. In his mind, having an apartment, the higher the apartment was, the better it would look.

NARRATOR: In his autobiography written with author Tony Schwartz, Trump would call it “truthful hyperbole.”

“THE ART OF THE DEAL”: “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.”

TONY SCHWARTZ: I came up with the phrase “truthful hyperbole.” And of course, it’s a ridiculous term because there is no such thing as truthful hyperbole, but it’s kind of a winning phrase. It really does capture the way in which he sees the world. The truth doesn’t mean much to Donald Trump.

MARIE BRENNER, Vanity Fair: In the time that I was reporting on him, his lawyer said to me, “Donald is a believer that if you repeat something enough, people will start to believe it.”

NEWSCASTER: Its opening party was one to end them all, guests, thousands of them, mingled with—

NARRATOR: And at its grand opening, the marketing, the publicity paid off.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO, Author, The Truth About Trump: It’s Donald Trump constructed out of marble and brass. That’s what Trump Tower is. It’s him. You know, it’s bold. It’s big. It’s polished. And it’s highly marketed.

MARIE BRENNER: Trump Tower made him. It was a moment where glitz took over New York. And Donald embodied that glitz.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN, Author, TrumpNation: And that was one of the first times he really got a taste of real celebrity. And Donald Trump is a man who thrives in the spotlight. Outside of the spotlight, I think he feels diminished.

NARRATOR: He had succeeded. Trump Tower was a reality. He had proof he was a winner. But not in everyone’s eyes.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: There is an old money elite in Manhattan that has never accepted Donald. He was considered, I think, loud and obnoxious and too-self centered and ill-mannered and not someone who fit in. And so I think this is where Donald’s resentment of the elite comes from.

NARRATOR: As Donald and Ivana moved into a penthouse on the top three floors of Trump Tower, something was missing.

BARBARA RES: He doesn’t have a lot of friends, but how can somebody in his position have friends? How do you— how do you trust anyone that, you know, isn’t working for you? What do they want out of you? It’s very difficult. It’s very lonely at the top. And he is the epitome of loneliness at the top.

[campaign ad]

BILL CLINTON (D), Arkansas Gubernatorial Candidate: As much as I care about my work, my relationship with my wife, Hillary, means even more to me.

HILLARY RODHAM: Sometimes people ask me what it’s like being married to Bill. He works so hard and keeps such long hours and becomes involved in so may other people’s lives and problems. I always tell him it’s great. We really cherish the time we do have together and appreciate the fact each of us works hard.

NARRATOR: In Arkansas, as Bill Clinton rose from attorney general to governor, Hillary Rodham became his most powerful aide. She changed her appearance, and eventually her name.

HILLARY CLINTON: In order to avoid any problem and just to put it to rest, I will forever be known as Hillary Rodham Clinton, and expect—

NARRATOR: She became skilled at policy and politics, a fighter willing to play hardball to win.

DAVID MARANISS, Author, First in His Class: Not only is she with him every step of the way, but he’s relying on her more than ever. She was his main policy maven during that period, as well as political adviser.

HARRY THOMASON: It’s a moment we’ve been waiting for! We all know it. You can feel it. Destiny is about to shake hands with history.

NARRATOR: And after a decade as governor, they believed they were finally ready. They would make a run for the White House.

Gov. BILL CLINTON: And that is why today, I proudly announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America! [cheers]

ROBERT REICH: And Hillary was right with him, holding each other, waving to the crowds. And I remember looking at them and I said, “I just hope they know what they’re getting into.”

HILLARY CLINTON: I have no idea because I’ve never done it before! I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen, but I’m ready for it. We’ll see.

NARRATOR: Hillary would find out whether she was ready soon enough.

GENNIFER FLOWERS: Yes, I was Bill Clinton’s lover for 12 years.

NARRATOR: Bill’s past was about to catch up with him and Hillary.

GENNIFER FLOWERS: The truth is, I loved him. Now he tells me to deny it.

CARL BERNSTEIN, Author, A Woman in Charge: The problems of Bill and other women are central to the Arkansas years and the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

GENNIFER FLOWERS: Well, I’m sick of all of the deceit and I’m sick of all of the lies.

CARL BERNSTEIN: The rumors about other women that are more than rumors— they’re based on fact.

GENNIFER FLOWERS: He is absolutely lying.

NANCY BEKAVAC, Yale Classmate: Every marriage is a puzzle even to the people in it, and to have on top of everything else to have that laid out there. And did I know that he had almost— did I know he had been unfaithful in his marriage? Yes. He’s a great flirt. We’ll leave it at that.

NARRATOR: In Arkansas, there was even a name for it, “bimbo eruptions.”

DAVID MARANISS: Hillary certainly knows. She absolutely knows then. She doesn’t know everything. She never wanted to know everything. Hillary’s the only person in the world who can completely answer that question accurately, but from all of my reporting on that subject, she certainly knew.

NARRATOR: Hillary had avoided speaking publicly about it.

JOE KLEIN, TIME: She would never do that. She will never open the door to the possibility of opening a conversation about his peccadilloes. And I think that that goes to the core of a lot of the clenched quality that she— that— that she portrays in public.

NARRATOR: As they campaigned in New Hampshire, the press pounced.

REPORTER: What’s your relationship with Gennifer Flowers?

BILL CLINTON: There really isn’t one, obviously.

ROBERT REICH: The allegations were beginning to take hold. They were beginning to undermine the credibility of this candidacy.

NEWSCASTER: Flowers’ allegations of a prolonged extramarital—

NEWSCASTER: He’s trying to regain his lead in the polls—

NARRATOR: In New Hampshire, Bill’s candidacy seemed doomed. If they wanted to win, Hillary would have to be willing to talk about Bill and other women on national TV. The interview would air just after the Super Bowl with 40 million Americans watching.

ROBERT REICH: And I was there backstage. I was thinking to myself, “I can’t believe the two of them going out under these circumstances.” I mean, how— they— they must have nerves of steel to be able to do this.

STEVE KROFT, 60 Minutes: Earlier today, Governor Clinton and his wife, Hillary, sat down with me to try to put the issue to rest.

NANCY BEKAVAC: And I remember I didn’t want to watch it with friends. I wanted— I wanted to sort of face it. It was excruciating.

STEVE KROFT: Who is Gennifer Flowers? How would you describe your relationship?

BILL CLINTON: Very limited, but until this— you know, friendly but limited.

STEVE KROFT:he’s alleging a 12-year affair with you.

BILL CLINTON: It— that allegation is false.

NARRATOR: Everything she had fought for was in peril. Now Hillary would speak.

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck, don’t vote for him!

ROBERT REICH: Again and again, she was willing and able emotionally to step into the breach and protect her husband.

DAVID MARANISS: She’s looking at the ends justify the means. There’s this huge political fight going on in the nation. They’re on the right side of that fight. And sort of taking it out of the personal and putting it into the— into this larger construct is really her armor from then on.

NEWSCASTER: Maybe Clinton has kept the dogs off long enough that he’ll go on to Super Tuesday—

NEWSCASTER: Can Bill Clinton run second? If so, he’s in a strong second.

NEWSCASTER: In New Hampshire today, after months of campaigning in some cases, candidates—

NARRATOR: The 60 Minutes appearance worked. They got the comeback they were looking for.

BILL CLINTON: I think we know enough to say with some certainty that New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the comeback kid. [cheers]

NARRATOR: The truth would only come out years later in this deposition.

BILL CLINTON: [August 17, 1998] And I had to admit under this deposition that I’d actually had sexual relations with Gennifer Flowers. Now, I would rather have taken a whipping than done that after all the trouble I’d been through with Gennifer Flowers.

ANNOUNCER: It’s another dazzling Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, your password to the last word in money-no-object adventure and excitement!

NARRATOR: He had hit it big with Trump Tower. He was a celebrity in New York City. At 40, he claimed he was a billionaire.

ROBIN LEACH, Host: Welcome to the world according to Trump, the billionaire builder with a big bang approach who dared to autograph the Manhattan skyline!

NARRATOR: He was now determined to make Trump a household name all over America. He began with a legendary buying spree.

BEN BERZIN, VP, Midlantic National Bank: Banks were lining up to give him money. And they would beat each other on terms to provide money to him. He was spending money like a drunken sailor.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: He buys a giant yacht that he doesn’t really enjoy at all.

NARRATOR: There was an airline—

BEN BERZIN: He bought the Trump Shuttle from bankrupt Eastern Airlines, no idea how to run an airline.

NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump, the biggest casino owner—

NARRATOR: —then he built a gambling empire in Atlantic City, two casinos and a hotel, then the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York City.

GWENDA BLAIR: It did seem out of control and possibly even pathological, casino after casino after casino after casino, hotels, yacht, everywhere he turned, another big piece of real estate here, another big piece of real estate there.

NARRATOR: By the late 1980s, Donald Trump’s ambition pushed him into uncharted territory, presidential politics.

NEWSCASTER: The signs of power and opulence in place, Donald Trump’s personal helicopter descended onto this small airfield, greeted by a one-man “Trump for President” bandwagon.

ROGER STONE: I arranged for the Portsmouth New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce to invite him for a luncheon speech. And a local Portsmouth city councilman named Mike Dunbar forms the first known Draft Trump for President committee.

NARRATOR: Trump’s political adviser, Roger Stone, was a long-time associate of Roy Cohn.

ROGER STONE: In truth, I don’t think he was ever serious about running in 1988. I think he liked the publicity. He liked the notoriety. It was— it was great media.

DONALD TRUMP: What I want is I want extreme competence. I want strength and extreme competence. And you need a combination of both, but I want strength and extreme competence at the helm of this country.

NARRATOR: In one speech after another, Trump’s political message was simple and direct.

DONALD TRUMP: I’m personally tired of seeing this great country of ours being ripped off and really decimated and hurt badly by so many foreign nations that are supposedly our allies.

ROGER STONE: NATO is ripping us off. Why are we paying for this? Why don’t the Japanese pay for themselves? Why don’t all our allies— they’re rich now. Why don’t they pay for themselves? Trade— we’re getting taken to the cleaners in these trade deals. So he’s already formulating his— his views as early as ‘88.

NARRATOR: He loved the attention and even began to insert himself into controversial issues in New York City.

NEWSCASTER: It is the ages of the accused, 14 to 17 years old, and the horror of their alleged crimes that has caused a furor, a woman jogging in New York’s Central Park last Wednesday night raped and nearly beaten to death.

MARC FISHER: What happened in Central Park was a violation to him, and he felt it keenly. And he felt— was— had a deep emotional reaction to it. And so he lashed out.

GWENDA BLAIR: He took out a full-page ad after the Central Park jogger case and said the kids who did this should be executed. This is terrible. They’re beasts, animals.

DONALD TRUMP: You better believe that I hate the people that took this girl and raped her brutally. You better believe it. And it’s more than anger, it’s hatred. And I want society to hate them.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: The unstated text of this was because there were five minority kids who brutalized a white woman in Central Park, and everybody’s outraged about it. And they’re different from us, and so we need to treat them with the severest methods possible.

NARRATOR: The five young men spent years in prison but were later exonerated when the actual rapist admitted his guilt.

MICHAEL KRANISH, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: But Donald Trump never apologized. He didn’t want to admit he was wrong. And to this day, he’s not apologized for the statements he made at the time.

NARRATOR: But for Trump, his television rage had worked. His celebrity was bigger than ever, and the talk of President Trump had begun.

TONY SCHWARTZ: I don’t believe that Trump himself felt that he was running for president. But once the notion got stirred up in him, it never went away.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court: Governor, are you ready to take the oath?

BILL CLINTON: I am. I, William Jefferson Clinton, do solemnly swear—

NARRATOR: It had been nearly 20 years since Hillary Rodham Clinton lived in Washington. Now she was back.

BILL CLINTON: —the office of president of the United States, so help me God.

REHNQUIST: Congratulations. [cheers]

LINDA BLOODWORTH-THOMASON: I think the hopes were very high. It just seemed like, you know, the sky is the limit.

NARRATOR: The question in Washington— what role would she play?

MACK McLARTY, Chief of Staff, 1993-94: I do remember the president-elect noting a couple of times that if another Democrat had been elected president, Hillary Clinton might be the attorney general pick.

GAIL SHEEHY: When I first interviewed him, I said, “So what’s your goal for the next 8 or 10 years?” He said, “Eight years of Bill. Eight years of Hill.”

NARRATOR: On the fifth day of his presidency, Bill Clinton ended the speculation about his wife.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: Today, I am announcing the formation of the president’s task force on national health reform.

NARRATOR: A first lady had never had an office in the West Wing. She had one, and now she had an official position.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: This task force will be chaired by the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

ROY NEEL, Dep. Chief of Staff, 1993: She was considered a political asset to accomplish the president’s agenda. And health care reform was high on that agenda.

NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton surprised Washington by operating in near total secrecy. For months, her task force worked behind closed doors.

ROBERT REICH: The health care plan is being developed secretly. They’re walled off. I mean, it’s like the development of the atom bomb. I mean, it— it’s almost in a fortress.

NARRATOR: She believed the secrecy was necessary, but it provoked a backlash.

CARL BERNSTEIN: She’s shutting down dissent. She is operating in secret. She’s throwing her weight around in a way that people in the United States Congress are absolutely appalled by and also are empowered by and use it against her and the Clinton White House.

Sen. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is the Social Security Act passed in August of 1935, 38 pages in length, establishing Social Security for all Americans. This is the Health Security Act — excuse me if I have a little trouble picking it up — and that is 1,342 pages— 38 pages versus 1,342.

NEWSCASTER: Few first ladies over the years have earned as much attention as Hillary Clinton.

NARRATOR: Her health care plan was under fire.

NEWSCASTER: —complained about secrecy surrounding her health care task force.

NARRATOR: But that wasn’t all.

NEWSCASTER: The most powerful and public first lady ever—

NARRATOR: The criticism was becoming personal.

NEWSCASTER: Mrs. Clinton is a player in this administration.

ROY NEEL, Dep. Chief of Staff, 1993: When you come into the White House, you are literally under attack every moment of the day.

NEWSCASTER: Hillary Rodham Clinton has forever changed the role of first lady.

ROY NEAL: The fleas come with the dog with this job. And I’m sure that they knew all of this, but it is— it is a— it’s a real eye-opener when you see how brutal it actually can be.

NEWSCASTER: —quite capable of playing—

NARRATOR: There were reports of marital strife, allegations that she’d orchestrated the firing of White House Travel Office employees, and questions about their finances and real estate deals.

NEWSCASTER: She cannot be fired. She cannot be disciplined—

JOE KLEIN: This was all happening at once. And they’d gotten the prize, and the prize would turn to dust. The prize was becoming a complete nightmare.

NEWSCASTER: The hearings are very likely to embarrass some people very close to the president.

BOB DOLE (R-KS), Minority Leader: No ordinary American would’ve received the same—

NARRATOR: Increasingly, the first lady believed she was at war.

NEWSCASTER: On Capitol Hill, the Whitewater political battle continues, with lawmakers still divided—

DAN BALZ, The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton began to feel very much a victim of, you know, as she described it, the vast right-wing conspiracy—

NEWSCASTER: Well, the hearings so far, they haven’t done much for the credibility of a White House already under—

DAN BALZ: —and builds up a set of resentments that I think she’s— she’s carried to this day.

NARRATOR: As the attacks mounted, she decided that what she needed to do was to get out of Washington.

NEWSCASTER: They are on the road again, a Clinton campaign-style caravan—

NEWSCASTER: The White House has organized a campaign to gain support—

NARRATOR: She would try to sell the health care plan directly to the American public.

HILLARY CLINTON: If we do not guarantee health insurance to every American, then we have failed all Americans.

NARRATOR: But if anything, the reaction outside of Washington was even worse.

NEWSCASTER: Since last September, when the president proposed his health plan, the Clintons have campaigned endlessly for it.

NARRATOR: There was anger in the crowds. It was about more than health care, it was about her.

MELANNE VERVEER, Dep. Chief of Staff, HRC, 1993-97: —I remember as though it were yesterday was, as her car was leaving, there were such angry faces pushing as best they could in sort of a mob attack on the windshield and screaming at her for, you know, what is it she’s trying to do.

NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton began to realize that just as in Arkansas, there was something about who she was that some people didn’t like.

JOE KLEIN: And she talked about how she was shocked — and she got a little emotional about this — by the reaction to her when she went on the road trying to sell the health care plan. They spit on her. They— they cursed her.

GAIL SHEEHY, Author, Hillary’s Choice: She said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” She said, “Everything is my fault. Nothing I do works. And white men hate me.” “No,” she said, “it’s not me they hate, it’s what I represent. It’s the changes I represent. I’m the wife who went back to college and got a better education and got a better job than my husband.”

She recognized that problem back then, and of course, it remains a problem for her today.

NEWSCASTER: One of the most extraordinary off-year elections in history—

NEWSCASTER: The Democrats are finding it tough going to—

NEWSCASTER: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any uglier, it does.

NARRATOR: The health care plan died.

NEWSCASTER: The Republican revolution of election ‘94 shook—

NARRATOR: And that year, the Democrats lost the mid-term election.

NEWSCASTER: —man of the hour clearly is Newt Gingrich, the Republican firebrand—

NARRATOR: Some of the blame fell on the first lady.

LISSA MUSCATINE, Hillary Clinton Speechwriter: She was viewed, I think, slightly radioactively by the— by some people in the West Wing and on the president’s staff. People in the West Wing were pointing a lot of fingers at her.

MACK McLARTY, Chief of Staff, 1993-94: Hillary did feel a sense of disappointment, a sense of responsibility, a feeling that certainly had contributed to the political landscape.

NEWSCASTER: It’s a monumental problem for President Clinton and his political agenda.

NARRATOR: In desperation, again Hillary reached out to the controversial political operative Dick Morris, in secret.

DICK MORRIS, Political Operative: We both decided to keep it secret. And I came up with the code name Charlie, and I used that, and from November ‘94 until April ‘95, nobody knew I was there but Bill and Hillary.

NARRATOR: Among Democrats, Morris, now a Republican strategist, had an unsavory reputation.

ROBERT REICH: Dick Morris was— was ghastly! I mean, he was absolutely horrible. He was the most arrogant, narcissistic person I have ever met in Washington. I mean, there are a lot of arrogant narcissists in Washington, believe me, but he was beyond the pale.

NARRATOR: Still, if Morris could help, the Clintons welcomed it.

DAVID MARANISS, The Washington Post: The— the thing about the Clintons is you can basically predict what they’re going to do. The same patterns repeat themselves over and over and over again in their lives. They got beat, just like they got beat for governor, and they did what it took to recover from that, and that was, “Bring in Dick Morris and we’ll figure our way back.”

NARRATOR: To win reelection, Morris persuaded the president to champion more conservative positions. The first lady’s long-time friends were alarmed.

ROBERT REICH: I was naturally upset. I mean, here we had a takeover of the White House in the form of Dick Morris, and he was pushing the president to the right. It was distressing, to say the least.

NARRATOR: Morris also identified one other problem that needed fixing— Hillary.

DICK MORRIS: I recommended that Hillary withdraw entirely from West Wing activities in public in the White House, that is public policy, that she no longer be seen as the key strategist, as the de facto chief of staff because I said it was giving Bill a reputation for weakness where he might not be able to win reelection.

NARRATOR: With her husband’s reelection at stake, she agreed to withdraw. She stayed away from the West Wing and transformed herself once again.

HILLARY CLINTON: Hi. How are you all? Well, welcome to the White House and to the beginning of the Christmas season here.

DAVID MARANISS: The Christmas scene was a variation of staying home and baking cookies. She was standing by her man and doing what it took to do that.

NARRATOR: And it worked. With her help, Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996.

By the early 1990’s, Donald Trump’s life was about to fall apart professionally and personally.

LIZ SMITH, NY Daily News, 1976-91: The rumors began that he had a girl, and so forth, and I was being bombarded with these stories.

NARRATOR: Liz Smith was a well known gossip columnist in newspapers and on television. Smith kept a close eye on Donald and Ivana.

LIZ SMITH: Ivana was totally fixated on Donald. I heard all— all these things, that she had tried to please him and gone away and had her breasts augmented and a facelift.

NARRATOR: But now there was another woman, 26-year-old Marla Maples. Ivana and Donald had been married 12 years. They had three children.

LIZ SMITH: She threw herself in my arms sobbing and crying and saying, “Donald doesn’t want me anymore. He has told me he can’t be sexually attracted to a woman who’s had children.”

NEWSCASTER: The Trumps are good copy, and the gossip columnists are in for a field day!

NEWSCASTER: The unfolding saga of Trump versus Trump—

NEWSCASTER: —a high-octane mix of the stuff that sells newspapers.

NARRATOR: For months, the tabloids reported on every detail of the affair, the breakup and the divorce.

NEWSCASTER: —the model from Georgia cast as the other woman—

BARBARA RES, VP Trump Organization, 1980-92: It was ugly. It was horribly ugly. The press was devastating, in my mind.

NEWSCASTER: —linking Trump to a bevy of beauties, including actress—

BARBARA RES: But Donald didn’t seem to think it was so devastating at all. He just rode with it. And he had his camp, and Ivana had her camp.

NEWSCASTER: And in Manhattan, the story is Trump versus Trump.

MARC FISHER, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: And he was totally comfortable in that period under the tutelage of Roy Cohn and the idea that all publicity is good publicity. Donald Trump felt that his name, his image, his brand were enhanced by having this war go on in the tabloid newspapers of New York, complete with sexual details of relationships.

TONY SCHWARTZ, Co-Author, The Art of the Deal: The worst publicity in the world can end up being good publicity, meaning, “Yeah, people said terrible things about me, but they sure know who I am.” And a month later or three months later, they don’t remember what it was they didn’t like about you, they just remember they know your name.

NARRATOR: Just then, Donald took on the biggest deal of his lifetime, the Taj Mahal Casino.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN, Author, TrumpNation: If Trump Tower is one bookend of Donald Trump’s career in business and represents everything that he did right, the Taj Mahal is the other bookend that represents everything he did wrong.

NARRATOR: It was huge, 1,250 rooms. The casino was the size of two football fields, $14 million worth of chandeliers. On Wall Street, some analysts were worried, and one of them spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

MARVIN ROFFMAN, Financial Analyst: I saw a real problem. I didn’t think that the company could cover its interest expenses on that debt. Plus the payroll was enormous because of the scope of the property.

NARRATOR: Trump had spent more than a billion dollars on the Taj.

ROFFMAN QUOTE: “Once the cold winds blow from October to February, it won’t make it. The market just isn’t there.”

NARRATOR: Donald Trump sent Marvin Roffman’s boss this letter.

LETTER: “ Mr. Roffman is considered by those in the industry to be a hair trigger, and in my opinion, somewhat unstable in his tone and manner of criticism.”

MARC FISHER: Donald Trump sees the people who have criticized him or have predicted that he would do poorly— he sees them as traitors. And so his immediate instinct is to tear that person down.

LETTER: “I am now planning to institute a major lawsuit against your firm unless Mr. Roffman makes a major public apology or is dismissed.”

NARRATOR: Roffman had worked at his brokerage firm for 16 years. He says they told him to back down.

MARVIN ROFFMAN: Donald Trump was trying to send a message to other people on Wall Street, “You better not badmouth me, or your job may be in jeopardy.”

NARRATOR: Roffman stood his ground.

MARVIN ROFFMAN: My firm, I mean, fired me, like, on the spot, and not just in a nice way. They actually escorted me out the building. And when the elevator got down to the lobby to exit, my boss made a comment to me, “Marvin, you know I— I like you as a person, but a little friendly advice. Keep your mouth shut about this, or you’ll never work in the industry again.”

NARRATOR: Burdened by debt, the Taj would not turn a profit. By that winter, as Roffman predicted, the casino was in serious trouble.

ABRAHAM WALLACH, VP, Trump Organization, 1990-2001: His business condition was terrible, worse than terrible. We were in a deep recession, and people weren’t going to Atlantic City. So the revenue stream from Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal and the other casinos, was poor.

NARRATOR: Trump’s other investments had not fared much better— the Plaza Hotel a financial disaster, the airline, Trump Shuttle, was bleeding money.

BARBARA RES: He sort of blamed the people around him for what went wrong instead of himself.

MICHAEL KRANISH, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: He started blaming people. He started firing people. He started yelling at people. He said, “I can be a screamer,” and he certainly was, according to various accounts.

NARRATOR: Trump had long cast himself as a winner. Now he was looking like a loser.

LOUISE SUNSHINE, VP, Trump Organization, 1973-85: I think that the down time for him was really a shock, and he was not prepared for it. It caught him totally off guard. It was probably the biggest challenge of his life.

NEWSCASTER: The Donald is facing an incredible cash crisis—

NEWSCASTER: Big troubles for Donald Trump—

NARRATOR: Trump and his companies owed more than $3 billion, much of it to the banks that had fueled his spending spree.

ABRAHAM WALLACH: As quickly as the banks loved him, that’s as quick as they saw him as a pariah. He was, like, “Oh, it’s Donald Trump!” They didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They wanted their money, and they wanted to be rid of Donald Trump.

NARRATOR: The bankers descended on Trump Tower.

GWENDA BLAIR, Author, The Trumps: Bankers held gigantic meetings at Trump Tower with, like, 40 banks all sitting around in a room, Donald very sober, looking like not quite penitent perhaps, but serious.

BEN BERZIN, VP, Midlantic National Bank: When you were talking to him in these meetings, he just didn’t seem that he had any idea how big the problem was or how it would be resolved. But he— as far as being CEO and understanding numbers and understanding the ramifications, doesn’t seem like he took economics or accounting in college.

NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump’s assets are on the line.

NEWSCASTER: Citibank and Trump’s other lenders are working on a bailout.

NARRATOR: The bankers faced a fundamental decision.

NEWSCASTER: The Trump Organization confirmed today—

BEN BERZIN: It was at a time when we were all trying to figure out, is it better off this guy being alive financially, or is it better off having him dead financially?

NARRATOR: As they stared into the Trump Organization’s abyss, the banks came to believe that Trump’s assets — the buildings, the casinos — were worth more with his name on them than in foreclosure.

BARBARA RES: If they were to take Trump out of it, they would no longer have the name for the casinos, which was a tremendous part of their allure. Otherwise, basically, what could they do? Liquidate and take a tremendous hit.

GWENDA BLAIR: The brand was worth now so much that bankers were willing to take a haircut in order to hang onto the name.

NEWSCASTER: The Trump Princess is said to have a pricetag—

NARRATOR: They sold the yacht and the airline.

NEWSCASTER: Trump may have to unload the Trump Shuttle, worth about—

NARRATOR: And they put Trump on a $450,000-a-month allowance. In exchange, he would continue to promote the business.

BEN BERZIN: I think bankers look at Trump as a promoter, not as a CEO. At least, that’s the way I looked at him. And if you talk to other bankers, I think they share that opinion. He’s a wonderful promoter. He— you know, he’s the P. T. Barnum of the 21st century.

NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump may have pulled off his biggest deal to date—

NARRATOR: Donald Trump had survived.

NEWSCASTER: —are working on a bailout plan.

NARRATOR: He was too big to fail.

NEWSCASTER: The bankers do not want Trump to file for bankruptcy.

NEWSCASTER: —explosive new allegations that strike at the very heart of the presidency.

NARRATOR: On the morning of January 21st, 1998, Hillary Clinton’s world was rocked once again.

GAIL SHEEHY: Bill Clinton woke her up one day and said, “I just have to tell you that there’s this weird thing going on, and I don’t want you to worry about it.”

NARRATOR: She tells the story herself in her book.

HILLARY CLINTON: “He sat on the edge of the bed and said, ‘There’s something in today’s papers you should know about.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ I asked. He told me there were news reports that he’d had an affair with a former White House intern.”

DAVID MARANISS, The Washington Post: It was at once probably a complete shock to her and no shock at all, if that’s possible. That’s the way I would view it.

HILLARY CLINTON: “I questioned Bill over and over about the story. He continued to deny any improper behavior but to acknowledge that his attention could have been misread.”

CARL BERNSTEIN, Author, A Woman in Charge: And Hillary Clinton believes that. And believes it and wants to believe it.

NEWSCASTER: These are dark days at the White House—

NEWSCASTER: Monica Lewinsky told prosecutors all she knows—

NEWSCASTER: Monica Lewinksy saved a navy blue dress that had the president’s semen stain on it, that she saved it as a kind of souvenir.

NARRATOR: As the pressure grew, she decided to act.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza.

HOST: And good morning and welcome to Today on this Tuesday morning.

NARRATOR: She headed to New York for an appearance on the Today show. Her top aide, Melanne Verveer, was with her.

HOST: We’ll hear in just a few minutes from the first lady of the United States.

MELANNE VERVEER: The night before was almost surreal because, you know, we just felt this personal pain that she was experiencing. There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation, and it wasn’t clear exactly what she intended to say.

HILLARY CLINTON: I think the important thing now is to stand as firmly as I can and say that, you know, the president has denied these allegations on all counts unequivocally.

DAVID MARANISS: She had no choice. I mean, think about all that she had invested in this for so many decades, and this is their most vulnerable point. I don’t think she— you know, with all of that investment, I don’t think she had any— any choice but to say what she did and to do what she did.

MATT LAUER, Co-Host: Has he described that relationship in detail to you?

NARRATOR: Hillary fought back like she had always done.

HILLARY CLINTON: The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.

DAVID MARANISS: Those words, the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” helped with that larger construct. This wasn’t personal, this was political. And that’s her armor.

MATT LAUER: This is the last great battle—

NARRATOR: Hillary Rodham Clinton had learned how to deal with scandal.

MATT LAUER: Are you saying, though, that you’re no longer— that this doesn’t upset you anymore, you’re almost numb to it?

HILLARY CLINTON: It’s not being numb so much as just being very experienced in the unfortunate mean-spirited give and take of American politics right now.

MATT LAUER: If an American president had an adulterous liaison in the White House and lied to cover it up, should the American people ask for his resignation?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, they should certainly be concerned about it.

MATT LAUER: Should they ask for his resignation?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think that if all that were proven true, I think that would be a very serious offense. That is not going to be proven true.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Hillary becomes almost the last person standing to believe that there was no sexual event or relationship between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. But her world is collapsing around her. The presidency, her husband’s presidency, is collapsing.

NARRATOR: Then after months, the truth.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: [to aide] Do I look OK?

Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.

JOE KLEIN: He’d not only made a fool of himself, but he had made a fool of her publicly. This is Hillary Clinton we’re talking about, you know, a brilliant person who was played for a fool publicly.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that.

ROBERT REICH: Hillary must have been absolutely beside herself. I mean, the president had personally assured her that there had been nothing to this. I mean, here he is, the president of the United States, and he has an intern— I mean, a little girl, and— and he’s risking his entire administration? I mean, that that seemed to me absolutely impossible.

DAVID MARANISS: She truly hates him. She thinks, you know, “How stupid.” This woman is Chelsea’s age. That intensifies the— or almost, you know, that intensifies that hatred.

NARRATOR: The next day, Hillary, Bill and Chelsea departed for vacation.

ROBERT REICH: She’s obviously furious, and she clearly is not going to hold his hand. Both of them are holding the two hands of Chelsea.

LISSA MUSCATINE: The entire country was waiting to see how she handled it, not just the press, everybody, because, gosh almighty, who had ever had to be in that position before?

DAN BALZ: She’s talked about it only in guarded ways, but in ways that suggest that she went through a terrible, terrible time as a result of that and lives with that today.

NARRATOR: The trip would be the first step in a months-long reconciliation.

NEWSCASTER: The nation’s most flamboyant and publicity-conscious—

NARRATOR: In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s financial collapse, the casinos were still deeply in debt. He was looking for a way out. He found one, Wall Street.

NEWSCASTER: Donald Trump is gambling investors want to bet on him—

DONALD TRUMP: This is a very exciting day. This is just the right time, and it’s the right time for this industry. So we’re really— we’re really happy, and this is a very exciting day.

NARRATOR: He was selling shares in the casinos. With Trump as the pitchman, the stock DJT hit a high of $35 a share.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN, Author, TrumpNation: Of course, it left Donald Trump as the steward of a publicly traded company, which is kind of like leaving a kid locked in a candy store overnight.

NARRATOR: Trump paid himself $44 million for services, and he’d been reimbursed millions in expenses more for his plane, the helicopter and other administrative costs.

MARC FISHER, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: So he was making tens of millions of dollars a year personally while the stock price was sinking, almost collapsing.

NARRATOR: The company filed for bankruptcy three times. Investors lost billions.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: He never earned a dime for his shareholders, for pensioners who had their retirement funds tied up in those casinos, never earned a dime until he just drove the whole thing off the cliff.

NEWSCASTER: With all your financial problems, you think you will survive?

DONALD TRUMP: Why do you say there are problems?

NARRATOR: Trump characteristically described his time in Atlantic City as a success.

NEWSCASTER: Everything financially OK?

DONALD TRUMP: Don’t believe everything you read, I’ll tell you.

MARC FISHER, Co-Author, Trump Revealed: Donald Trump believes that he came out ahead because, as he puts it, he was looking out for Donald Trump. And all the other people who lost their shirts— didn’t work out for them. That’s the way things go. They should have done a better job of vetting their investment.

NARRATOR: And Trump walked away with a key asset, his name.

TONY SCHWARTZ, Co-Author, The Art of the Deal: It really dawned on Trump that he could make a huge business empire out of putting his name everywhere. “God, I don’t have to kill myself trying to buy up land and deal with zoning boards, and you know, go crazy. And half the time, it doesn’t work anyway. Why don’t I just sell my name?”

NARRATOR: Dozens of “Trump” buildings would go up around the world, but he would neither build them nor own them.

ABRAHAM WALLACH, VP, Trump Organization, 1990-2001: “It has my name on it. I get a fee. I usually get the management of the building, as well, which brings in even more money in, and everybody thinks it’s my building. It’s Trump Tower Manila, Trump Tower Panama City.”

NARRATOR: For Trump, real estate was now a side business, marketing his own name a full-time job.

[television commercials]

DONALD TRUMP: Do you really think this is the right thing for us to be doing, Ivana?

IVANA TRUMP: But it feels so right!

DONALD TRUMP: Then it’s a deal?

IVANA TRUMP: Yes, we eat our pizza the wrong way.

DONALD TRUMP: Crust first.

NARRATOR: Along with his ex-wife, Trump turned his marital problems into a pizza commercial.

IVANA TRUMP: May I have the last slice?

DONALD TRUMP: Actually, you’re only entitled to half.

GWENDA BLAIR, Author, The Trumps: He’s seen that it’s a consumer country. We’re all consumers. We’re trained to be consumers. We’re used to being sold to. He’s a really good salesman. He knows how to sell.

DONALD TRUMP: It’s amazing. A Big N’ Tasty for just a dollar? How do you do it? What’s your secret?

NARRATOR: He used his celebrity to sell everything from computers to hamburgers.

DONALD TRUMP: Got a buck? You’re in luck. Together, Grimace, we could own this town.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: He realizes that if you’re on TV and you’re considered a celebrity and you’re considered a success, and that you can essentially trade on that for the rest of your life—

NARRATOR: He even took a turn as a professional wrestler.

WWE ANNOUNCER: Hey, look at this! Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump taking down— oh, my God! The hostile takeover of Donald Trump!

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: He was seen for quite a long time as a punchline to jokes about the excesses and the failures of the 1980s, and he’d become, you know, a human shingle and a punch line. The Apprentice turned all of that on its head.

DONALD TRUMP: [“The Apprentice”] New York, my city, where the wheels of the global economy never stop turning.

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: He became seen as a credible businessperson with a real track record, even though that was at odds with reality. And the guy who became a reality TV star via The Apprentice learned that he could become a reality political star.

DONALD TRUMP: Who will succeed and who will fail and who will be the apprentice?

NARRATOR: For 14 seasons, millions of Americans watched a carefully crafted Donald Trump.

ROGER STONE, Trump Political Adviser: He’s perfectly made up. He’s perfectly coiffed. He’s perfectly lit. He’s in the high-backed chair, making tough decisions. What does he look like? He looks like a president.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT, The Apprentice: Donald connected with the American public because they wanted to be like him. They aspired to be just like him. They wanted to see all this affluence, and he let them see it. He let them into every aspect of what it meant to be successful in America.

DONALD TRUMP: Good morning. Everybody’s saying I should run for president. Let me ask you a question. Meatloaf, should I run for president?

MEATLOAF: Absolutely!

DONALD TRUMP: Now, you would definitely vote for me?

NARRATOR: As the show took off, Trump again began to discuss a run for the White House.

DONALD TRUMP: Who would not vote for me? Who would not vote for me? All right, good. I would say anybody that raised their hand—

JIM DOWD, PR director, The Apprentice: He was very serious. There’s no question about it. His popularity was— was never higher than it was, you, know during this Apprentice time. And he was literally— he could do no wrong at that stage. And I think that he realized, “Wow, if I’ve hit the high, let’s take it to the— where can you go from there? I want to be President.”

NARRATOR: And for his political guru, Roger Stone, the TV audience could become Trump voters.

ROGER STONE: —which is the greatest single asset to his presidential campaign because for 14 seasons, he is viewed by the voters, by the— by the population, in a perfect light. Now, I understand the elites say, “Oh, that’s reality TV.” Voters don’t see it that way. Television news and television entertainment— it’s all television!

NARRATOR: He was wealthy again. He had rehabilitated his image. The world knew him. Donald Trump believed he was ready.

NEWSCASTER: One of the most critical days of his presidency—

NARRATOR: As the revelations about Monica Lewinsky led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, Hillary would help rescue him again.

ROBERT REICH: She somehow manages to find it in herself not only to forgive her husband enough that they can get back together and be a team, but she actually begins to manage the defense of her husband in the impeachment trial. I mean, it’s— it’s utterly extraordinary.

NEWSCASTER: There was, we think, a national sense of relief that it was over.

NARRATOR: But on the day he was acquitted, Bill Clinton, without Hillary by his side, addressed the press.

Pres. BILL CLINTON: I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events.

CARL BERNSTEIN: And the day that the Senate votes to acquit Bill Clinton, where is Hillary Clinton? She is in the study off of her bedroom in the White House with maps of New York state laid out in front of her and considering whether to run for the Senate of the United States.

GAIL SHEEHY: And Bill Clinton comes by, wants to come in to chat. They don’t even invite him in the room. And they plan and think and plot. And she told me afterwards, “That was the first time in 53 years that I spoke with my own voice and planned to use my own voice as my own political person.”

NEWSCASTER: She is whisked into the Capitol like a visiting dignitary, the star of the day, the new junior senator from New York—

NARRATOR: Hillary Clinton became the first senator who was also the first lady.

NEWSCASTER: The president’s wife is struggling to appear humble in her new world, where power comes from seniority—

DAN BALZ: I think that the surprising factor was that, yes, that she would leave the White House before he left the White House and chart her own very singular public political career as his was coming to an end. I mean, when have we ever seen that in American history before?

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON: Am I going to this legislative conference, Patty?

NARRATOR: Unlike her failed effort at heath care reform, as a senator, she worked the back rooms and the corridors of power.

ROBERT REICH: If she really wanted to develop a base of power that was hers, she had to do it in her own way, based on what she had learned the hard way as first lady.

NARRATOR: With presidential ambitions in mind, she kept her head down and focused on the practical.

Sen. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), Majority Leader, 2001-03: She is happier with the grind than she is with the stardust. She loves delving and drilling down. She loves public policy.

NARRATOR: And for six years, she courted the Democratic Party establishment and big donors, laying the groundwork for her next move.

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON: I’m running for president, and I’m in it to win it! [cheers]

DAN BALZ: She was the overwhelming favorite, yes, but she ran into competition the likes of which she hadn’t anticipated.

Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), Presidential Candidate: We can finally bring the change we need to Washington! We are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction!

DAVID MARANISS: They weren’t ready for Barack Obama. She got blindsided completely. [laughs] She thought it was her time.

Sen. BARACK OBAMA: The American people are looking for change—

DAVID MARANISS: Her husband was supposed to be the first black president, and along comes a guy who can really be the first black president—

Sen. BARACK OBAMA: Fired up, ready to go! Fired up, ready to go!

DAVID MARANISS: —who’s younger, who’s just as smart, just as cocky as her husband, has this magic to him. It just blew her out.

BILL CLINTON, Former President: Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen!

NARRATOR: The Clintons, now members of the Washington establishment, fought back.

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON: Now, I could stand up here and say, “Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified. The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect!”

NARRATOR: At Wellesley, Hillary Rodham had ridiculed politics as the art of the possible. But Hillary Clinton now embodied it.

ROBERT REICH: It was understandable that in 2008, she is saying to Barack Obama, “It’s not going to be as easy as you think it is. You know, I have the— the scars to prove it.”

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON: Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear! [cheers]

ROBERT REICH: Something very different from what she was in 1992, when she and Bill Clinton were the new guard. They were the Boomers. They were the voice of change. But to the American public, who wants to elect a president who exudes hope and aspiration, Hillary started to sound like the old guard, the voice of caution, the establishment.

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON: It has been the honor and privilege of my life to compete for the presidency of the United States—

NARRATOR: By the end, Hillary Clinton’s experience was not her strength, it was her undoing.

Sen. HILLARY CLINTON: I pledge my support to the next president of the United States, Barack Obama!

SUPPORTERS: Thank you Hillary! Thank you Hillary! Thank you Hillary!

CO-HOST, The View: Please welcome my friend, Donald Trump.

NARRATOR: With his image as a leader burnished by The Apprentice, Donald Trump now saw an issue he could turn into headlines.

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

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, The View: Why should he have to?

DONALD TRUMP: Because I have to and everybody else has to, Whoopi. Why wouldn’t he show— [crosstalk] Excuse me. Why— no, excuse me. I really believe there’s a birth certificate. Why— look, she’s smiling. Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?

TIMOTHY O’BRIEN: The birther thing is interesting because it— it hearkens back to Roy Cohn and Joe McCarthy. Donald gets insight into the fact that you can sensationalize someone’s personal history in a brutal and insensitive way.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: I’ve never heard any white president asked to be shown the birth certificate!

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: When he was becoming the leader of the birther movement, I think he understood who he was speaking to. It was the Archie Bunkers who were uncomfortable with an African-American president.

DONALD TRUMP: If you’re going to be the president of the United States, it says very profoundly that you have to be born in this country.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: Donald Trump is a billionaire. He’s famous, he’s on TV, and he’s saying he’s uncomfortable, too. And he’s practicing Roy Cohn/Roger Stone innuendo.

INTERVIEWER: Where’s that coming from?

ROGER STONE: Excellent question. I assume the internet. I am not the progenitor of that, meaning I don’t first bring it— I don’t bring the phenomena to his attention, but 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.

NEWSCASTER: Another political story making news this morning, Donald Trump’s growing poll numbers—

NARRATOR: As the birther issue raised his poll numbers, Trump arrived in New Hampshire for what looked like the beginning of a presidential campaign.

NEWSCASTER: 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.

NARRATOR: Trump’s speech was carried live on national television. But President Obama had a surprise for Trump.

DONALD TRUMP: If you put a tax on Chinese products—

NEWSCASTER: OK, we’re going to leave New Hampshire and go to Washington and the White House, where President Obama is speaking.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth. Now—

NARRATOR: Obama had released his birth certificate and upstaged Trump.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: Yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4th, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.

NARRATOR: With the birth certificate no longer an issue, Washington expected Donald Trump to recede into the background. They were certain he was finished.

NEWSCASTER: Shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in as president, Hillary was nominated and quickly confirmed as his secretary of state.

NEWSCASTER: Now Mr. Obama wants to make Clinton the face of his foreign policy—

NARRATOR: To the surprise of many in Washington, Hillary Clinton agreed to become Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

NEWSCASTER: —former presidential candidate constantly scarred over foreign policy issues—

JONATHAN ALLEN, Co-Author, HRC: She wanted to run again, and I think having a secretary of state credential underneath her belt or on her resume was something that was very important to her.

Pres. BARACK OBAMA: We will have a secretary of state who has my full confidence.

NARRATOR: But from the very beginning, she learned that Obama intended to run foreign policy from the Oval Office.

DENNIS ROSS, Special Adviser, State Dept., 2009: What we find out is that all decision-making is concentrated in the White House, that there is no decisions that are going to be made that don’t get vetted and run through the White House, no matter how small.

NARRATOR: For two years, Clinton tried to work her way into Obama’s inner circle and build a legacy.

NEWSCASTER: Angry demonstrators march through the streets in Tunisia—

NEWSCASTER: It is dark, dangerous and violent—

NARRATOR: And as the Arab spring erupted throughout the Middle East—

NEWSCASTER: Another day of unrest in Tunisia—

NEWSCASTER: Anti-government demonstrations—

NARRATOR: —Secretary Clinton saw an opportunity. She went to the president with a plan, to join an international coalition to take out the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

DENNIS ROSS: In the decisive meeting that we had, she was saying we have to do more if we’re going to shape this, and there’s the ability to have a broad coalition to do this.

NEWSCASTER: Gaddafi’s grip on the country is weakening.

NARRATOR: The president agreed.

NEWSCASTER: —helping to identify targets for the U.S.-led air assault—

NARRATOR: And as Gaddafi’s forces crumbled, it looked like a success. Secretary Clinton was in front of the cameras when she received news Gaddafi himself had been captured.

HILLARY CLINTON: Wow. Unconfirmed. Unconfirmed reports about Gaddafi being captured.

JONATHAN ALLEN: She found out about this as she was doing a television interview.

NARRATOR: The moments around Gaddafi’s death were also caught on camera.

JONATHAN ALLEN: Her response was—

HILLARY CLINTON: We came, we saw, he died! [laughter]

JONATHAN ALLEN: It was a moment of success and gratification for her. It tells you just how invested she was in the Libya mission and what she believed was going to be a great success for herself and for the United States.

NARRATOR: The success was short-lived. Libya descended into chaos. In Benghazi, four Americans working for the State Department were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Their deaths again put Hillary Clinton at the center of a political storm.

NEWSCASTER: Today on Capitol Hill, marathon testimony—

NEWSCASTER: —directly confronting one of the biggest controversies—

NARRATOR: There were eight congressional investigations. She spent hours testifying.

NEWSCASTER: It was supposed to be about Benghazi, but it soon dissolved into—

CARL BERNSTEIN: The embattled Hillary is the essence of Hillary. She’s comfortable in battle. She has fought for two generations, and she’s got a lot of scars. And who she is, is a map of how she has traversed that battlefield going back to Arkansas.

NARRATOR: And those old questions about secrecy again resurfaced in a controversy over a private email system she set up.

NEWSCASTER: The Clinton team says there is nothing nefarious here—

NEWSCASTER: Clinton claims that she has nothing to hide—

GAIL SHEEHY: This was again the old Hillary— secrecy, denial, keep it all very tight, just goes back to, “I’m not going to let them know because they’ll use it against me,” and they would.

NARRATOR: Yet Hillary Clinton was determined to try for the presidency one last time.

SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!

NARRATOR: And again she faced charges from the young and the progressive that she embodies the establishment. As always, she fought on.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time— [cheers] the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee—

NARRATOR: It had been a brutal path to this moment, and a lifetime in politics had taught her more was to come.

GAIL SHEEHY: One of the things that she had learned very early in that Rodham household was you just— when things don’t go right, you just get up every morning, you put one foot in front of the other, you get through your day, you do the best you can, and you just keep moving forward until it gets easier. And she’s done that all her life.

NARRATOR: At Trump Tower, Donald Trump was ready for yet another comeback. He believed he had a chance to prove his critics wrong and get even with the establishment by running for president.

ROGER STONE: He’s got a great sense of theater. The orchestration of it recognizes his showmanship. He’s a showman above all.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: He enters as the royal presence.

ROGER STONE: He understood the drama of coming down the escalator.

NARRATOR: He was joined by his third wife, Melania, a supermodel from Slovenia.

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: He descended almost from heaven.

GWENDA BLAIR: He descends down the gold-plated escalator into the marble— rosy marble lobby of Trump Tower.

DONALD TRUMP: That is some group of people, thousands!

GWENDA BLAIR: Got on the stage, said, “What a crowd, thousands.” It was hundreds.

MARC FISHER: It was like the next chapter of The Apprentice. And it was the moment that— that he had actually been building toward for decades.

DONALD TRUMP: Great to be in a wonderful city, New York—

MICHAEL D’ANTONIO: Proceeded to launch into an announcement-slash-rant of the type no one’s seen in presidential politics before.

DONALD TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.

MARC FISHER: And so he— in this moment, he says, I’m just going to be myself. Then he takes a seven-minute script and just goes off, and goes on and on. And it’s kind of stream of consciousness.

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

ROGER STONE: It’s totally his gut. We didn’t know he was going to talk about crimes committed by illegal aliens and illegal immigrants and that— you know, that people had been murdered and raped.

DONALD TRUMP: Sadly, the American dream is dead.

SUPPORTER: Bring it back!

DONALD TRUMP: But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again! Thank you. Thank you very much. [cheers]

ROGER STONE: It’s like a man working without a net. You’re going to tune in to see what he’s going to say because it could be anything. It’s got a daredevil quality to it. It’s genuine. It’s real. You’re, like, holding your breath, “What’s he going to say next?”

NARRATOR: At the time, some thought it was just another publicity stunt.

MICHAEL KRANISH: He made a lot of statements that immediately made people dismiss him, that this guy must be a joke. But Donald Trump was somehow finding a way to connect with the people who mattered at that moment for him.

NARRATOR: The man whose father taught him there were winners and losers proceeded to win the votes of millions of Americans and the nomination of the Republican Party.

TONY SCHWARTZ: His deepest hunger has always been for attention, and he had exhausted the ways in which to get attention. He’d gone so far beyond what most human beings can even imagine that he was at the end of that road, still hungry. He wanted the attention of the nation. He wanted the attention of the world. And he’s gotten it.

NARRATOR: America faces a choice between two candidates who have spent decades in the public eye, symbols of a bitterly divided country. Both have life stories that led them to this moment. Now the nation will decide between them.

— via reflections —

As usual, Frontline does the world a service by bringing this kind of journalism to the public sphere. Amidst an unprecedented political season, it is even more critical that we, the American public, understand our candidates, and not just be politically deaf and dumb to anything that does not fall within our own political ideologies. One can only hope that more of the populace will be consistent with the principles of the American ethos, not just partisan in their political ego.

With the rampant skepticism and accusations that are ubiquitous these days, it is important to acknowledge that even in this production, there is a fair amount of conjecture and bias. No news organization can immune themselves to these viruses, especially when you interview second- and third parties. Yet, it is important to also concede the axiom, you can choose your own opinions, but you can’t choose your own facts, and the facts as presented here, are well researched, and quite substantive. In addition, while much of the psycho-analyzing that is on display here is interpersonal postulation, much of it “rings true” to the actions and behaviors of the individuals over the long term.

I was struck primarily with the adolescent psychologies of both, and the shaping that their upbringing must have had on how they present themselves to the world. It is also incredible to watch two very different people progress through two very different pathways of gender, sexuality, and indiscretion, an undeniable factor in this election. I was intrigued at the role religious teachings may have played in both candidates, as well how those teachings shaped and molded–confirmed (?)–their natural moral centers.

Perhaps it is most astounding that, unlike any election in the history of American politics, if we are looking for a leader to serve the American people through humility, thoughtfulness, and understanding, to have expertise regarding America’s place and role in the world, and to faithfully execute the office as represented in our Constitution, then the title of this production is ironically absurd; there really is no choice.