Not only is this image of Donald Trump shaking hands with Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office one of the most ironic in recent American history, it also contains some very telling nonverbal clues.
Mr. Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, is, of course the person with whom Michael Flynn was in communication with and connected to - in one of the several allegations of Trump-Russian collusion. Ambassador Kislyak and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov both visited President Trump and Ambassador Rex Tillerson yesterday in the White House. This meeting came only one day after James Comey, who was investigating possible Trump-Russian ties, was fired as the FBI's Director. This image (and the cropped close-up below) were taken by Tass, the Russian news agency. No members of the American Press were allowed in the room.
It's crucial to note that President Trump (nor candidate Trump) has rarely been photographed projecting a sincere smile. In this specific moment, Donald Trump's expression is crescendoing to - or decrescendoing from a sincere smile - he's very close to one here - but it's not quite a sincere smile in this second.
To nuance further:
- Trump's forehead is relaxed (although he has had Botox treatments in this part of his face, so it's difficult to assess his forehead status objectively)
- The area between his brows appears a bit drawn together with vertical creases (however these are longstanding and the creases are passive [not contracted]) - if we did not have this prior knowledge, this finding may lead us astray
- His eyelids are partially (mostly) closed - consistent with a sincere smile
- He has evanescent, concave-up furrows in each of his lower eyelids - also consistent with a sincere smile
- Although his mouth only displays his upper teeth (also indicative of sincerity), the corners of his mouth are vectored a bit too much laterally to indicate full sincerity in this instant (they should be pulled up a little more). Again, this finding, taken in isolation, could indicate the moment just prior to, or just after a moment of sincerity
- Donald Trump's baseline skin tone aside, The President is blushing in this moment. Blushing cannot be "acted" or faked. Thus his blushing indicates his smile was just a sincere smile (Duchenne smile) - or just about to be sincere.
So why was the President Blushing?
Although neither are applicable in this example - people often times blush during moments of anger and sexual attraction. Thus we are left with etiology of Embarrassment.
It's profound to point out that during moments of embarrassment-blushing, the person is in a beta emotional tone. They are feeling beta to another person(s) alpha. Blushing is a moment of involuntary, psychological acquiescence.
Now, look at Sergey Kislyak's face. His "smile" is false. It's not sincere. And, as with many feigned smiles, it's asymmetrical. While some may call this a "smirk" - that term is a slang - and misses the mark. Ambassador Kislyak is expressing contempt on his left side (camouflaged, for it's the side furthest from Trump).
Sergey Kislyak feels contempt towards Donald Trump.
Donald Trump in this moment is either crescendoing to or decrescendoing from a sincere smile. He is also blushing from embarrassment. While we do not know the specific reason of his embarrassment in this instant, we can say, unequivocally, he is feeling beta to Sergey Kislyak's and/or Sergey Lavrov's Alpha status. This embarrassment is being displayed - and felt - on Trump's home-turf, inside the Oval Office.
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