If you haven't heard the news - today, Richard Nixon's infamous press conference was eclipsed. You remember that one, don't you? - the one when he declared, "... I am not a crook!"
What follows is a partial transcript concentrating on a portion of President Donald Trump's impromptu press conference (16 February 2017) - when subject of alleged communications with Russian officials during the presidential campaign (and prior to Mr. Trump's inauguration) were discussed, followed by a body language analysis - as well as some statement analysis.
DONALD TRUMP (Beginning at 1:01:57 in the above video): Ahhh, Yes? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. I was just hoping that we could get a yes or no answer on one of these questions involving Russia. Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
DONALD TRUMP: Well I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing. So that's one person. But he was dealing, as he should have been [Loose Tongue Jut]. (1:02:17)
QUESTION: During the election?
DONALD TRUMP: No. N- [stutter], Nobody that I know of. Nobody...
QUESTION: So you're not aware of any contact during the course..
DONALD TRUMP: Look, look, look...
QUESTION: ... of the election?
DONALD TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
QUESTION: Can you just say yes or no on that?
TRUMP: Russia is a ruse.
Yeah, I know you have to get up and ask a question. It's so important.
Russia is a ruse [lack of palmar touch to chest]. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don't speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn't. I just have nobody to speak to.
I spoke to Putin twice. He called me - on the election. I told you this. And he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago.
We had a very [pause] good talk, especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. I'm sure you probably get it because it was classified. So I'm sure everybody in this room perhaps has it. But - we had a very, very good talk.
I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my ta- [stutter] knowledge no person that I deal with does. [Looks down to his right. Eyelids closing while eyebrows elevating].
Now, Manafort has totally denied it. He d - [stutter] denied it. Now people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while, but not for Russia. I think he represented Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine, or people that - whoever. But people knew that. Everybody knew that.
QUESTION: But in his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?
DONALD TRUMP: I have - You know what? He said no. I could only tell you what he - now he was replaced long before the election. You know that, right?
He was replaced long before the election. When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election. But Paul Manafort, who's a good man - also by the way, Paul Manafort was replaced long before the - election took place. He was only there for a short period of time.
End of (Partial) Transcript, Analysis begins below:
During 1:02:17, immediately after he says, "Well I told you, Gen. Flynn obviously was dealing. So that's one person. But he was dealing, as he should have been" - Donald Trump displays a Loose Tongue Jut. A loose tongue jut indicates the thought-emotion of "I've been bad" or "I've been caught" (Navarro). (It's important to not confuse this with a "Tight Tongue Jut" which has an entirely different meaning).
During 1:02:31 - 1:02:32, as he says, ".... I have nothing to do with Russia ...", Mr. Trump touches his chest. If you look carefully though, you'll see he places only his fingers and thumbs on his chest - while his the palms of his hands are not touching it. This lack of "Palmar Touching" is a strong indication of insincerity. Indeed this gesture (MAP - Manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier) is often used in a deliberately hyperbolic fashion when people are satirizing an accusation of which they are obviously guilty - but pretending (exaggerating) to be innocent (e.g., "Who? Me?"). This gesture is so often used in this manner - that it's long since become a cliche'.
During multiple and particularly telling occasions, Donald Trump looks down and to his right when denying any involvement with him or his campaign staff communicating with Russian officials. Perhaps the most crucial occasion occurs during the 1:03:04 - 1:03:5 segment, as he says, "To the best of my ta- [stutter] knowledge no person that I deal with does."
Eye contact has a strong tendency to either increase or decrease while telling a lie (rather than keeping steady at the statistically 'normal' intermediate percentages [roughly 30 - 70%]). When eye contact does increase during deception - it tends also to be a stare - eye contact that is held for a few seconds 'too long' - and may very well feel emotionally uncomfortable or suspicious to its recipient.
However, in the other extreme, when eye contact does decrease during deception - the direction of gaze in which most people look is down and to their right (Notice Nixon also looks down to his right as he says, "... I have never obstructed justice.").
Another profound detail to note here is the eyelid - eyebrow dynamic. For while Trump's eyebrows elevate upward, the eyelids are momentarily mostly closed (please watch on 1/2 or even 1/4 speed to catch this detail as it cannot be fully appreciated in a still image). This opposite motion of these two adjacent tissues looks unnatural and is strongly indicative of insincerity and deception.
The stuttering of the President should also not be overlooked - for it's correlated with anxiety (thus overlapping with deception behavior) occurring in this important sentence and several other times in this particular passage.
From a paralanguage perspective (more specifically a "Statement Analysis" point-of-view) there are several key tells in Trump's statements.
The phrases, "To the best of my knowledge", "How many times do I have to answer this question?", "Nobody that I know of" as well as Trump's simple lack of directly answering the question either "yes" or "no" - are all strongly correlated with deception.
Moreover, while the occasional consecutive use of the word "very" is faux pas of which all adults may occasionally be guilty - when "very, very" is used with any kind of appreciable frequency, it's not only a repetition of an adverb - it's also a profound indicator of insincerity and will often be accompanied by simultaneous nonverbal insincerity signals.
And while it's common knowledge that Donald Trump spoke on the phone recently with Vladimir Putin - his statement regarding these conversations was immediately juxtaposed with his declaration of the opposite: "Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don't speak to people from Russia." This very literal contradiction is also correlative with deception and is what some refer to as a "Freudian Slip".
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