Today, former acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Russia's role in interference with the 2016 US Presidential election. In the above video excerpt, Ms. Yates is recounting her initial meeting with Don McGahn (White House counsel) concerning Michael Flynn.
Immediately below is the transcript of this specific video excerpt (full transcript available here), followed by a partial nonverbal analysis.
SALLY YATES (beginning at 0:00):"... the first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct (0:04 - 0:05) that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself.
Secondly, we told him we felt like the vice president and others were entitled to know that the information that they were conveying to the American people wasn't true. And we wanted to make it really clear right out of the gate that we were not accusing Vice President Pence of knowingly providing false information to the American people.
And, in fact, Mr. McGahn responded back to me to let me know that anything that General Flynn would've said would have been based - excuse me - anything that Vice President Pence would have said would have been based on what General Flynn had told him.
Ahum, we told him the third reason was is because we were concerned that the American people had been misled about the underlying conduct and what General Flynn had done, and additionally, that we weren't the only ones (0:56 - 0:57) that knew all of this, that the Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done.
And the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others, because in the media accounts, it was clear from the vice president and others that they were repeating what General Flynn had told them, and that this was a problem because not only did we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information. And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.
Finally, we told them that we were giving them all of this information so that they could take action - the action that they deemed appropriate.
Ahum, I remember that Mr. McGahn asked me whether or not General Flynn should be fired, and I told him that that really wasn't our call, that was up to them, but that we were giving them this information so that they could take action ..."
Note that during 0:04 - 0:05, as Ms. Yates says, "... Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn ...", and later in this video segment as she says, "... and additionally, that we weren't the only ones that knew all of this ..." (during 0:56 - 0:57), the former acting US attorney General displays two excellent examples of what is know as a "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" (SRHW).
A Self-Righteous Head Wiggle is characterized by relatively rapid, side-to-side movements of the head and neck - and often is accompanied by a similar movement of the torso (although the torso component is quite minimal in these two examples). Sometimes the SRHW will be very short-lived (a near-microexpression) - however in these examples, although still relatively brief, they're of longer duration.
The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle (SRHW) is commonly displayed by individuals who are in the midst of hyper-alpha moments of particularly high confidence while expressing especially strong opinions.
The SRHW is subconsciously generated and not feigned. It's somewhat helpful to think of it as a mild-to-moderate form of nonverbal swagger.
It's also crucial to emphasize that the dynamics of a SRHW do not capture in a still image and must be viewed in motion.
Although not present in these examples, the SRHW may also sometimes have an additional overlying backward motion component (when contempt, disgust, contempt and/or incredulity are also present) - or a superimposed forward motion (when condescending emotions or arrogance are coexisting).
Fascinatingly, the vocal pitch grows higher during the Self-Righteous Head Wiggle - providing an outstanding example of congruity between paralanguage and body language. Please re-watch these and listen to Sally Yates' voice momentarily increase an octave or two.
Summary: Sally Yates' nonverbal behavior during her testimony was indicative of high confidence and sincerity. She showed no signs of deception.
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