On 4 October 2017, in Niger - near the border of Mali, four American and five Nigerian soldiers were killed by approximately 50 militant extremists with possible links to ISIS. Several soldiers were also injured.
Green Beret Sgt. La David Johnson was one of the American soldiers who was killed along with Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright.
On Tuesday, President Trump called Sgt. Johnson's widow, Myeshia. She was in a car with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D - FL) and another family member who raised Sgt. Johnson - Ms. Cowanda Jones-Johnson. The call was taken on speaker-phone. According to Representative Wilson, the President said, "Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt." Ms. Jones-Johnson agreed with Rep. Wilson's recounting, saying "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband."
This morning in the White House, President Trump was asked about the phone call (see the video above). What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of the President's reaction.
JOURNALIST: Mr. President, what did you say to Sargent Johnson's widow on the phone yesterday?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Didn't say what that congresswoman said - didn't say it at all. She knows it, and sh- now -- is not saying it. I did not say what she said - and - ah, I'd like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said. I had a very nice conversation, with thee [sic] - woman, with the wife - who is - sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and - most people aren't too surprised to hear that.
JOURNALIST: What is the Proof Mr. President?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ah, let, let her make her statement again and then you'll find out.
JOURNALIST: She is saying that she - that you said this
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay, let her make her statement again, and then you'll find out.
This image was captured during 0:00 and is a variation of a Tight Tongue Jut - indicating Disdain, Disgust, and Repulsive feelings.
A second later, during 0:01, President Trump displays Disgust.
This "Tongue in Cheek" display during 0:03 indicates the thought-emotions of "I Just Won". It's helpful to think of this as a nonverbal form of Smugness.
Most notably, President Trump kept his arms folded during this entire portion of the meeting. It's very rare for any head of state to fold their arms during an official appearance - perhaps in their office, in private, etc., - but not during a speech, press conference, TV, etc. The only other US President who has done so was Richard Nixon - during his infamous "I am not a crook" press conference - on 17 November 1973, about 9 months prior to his resignation.
While not common for him, the President has been adopting this nonverbal configuration with increasing frequency in the last several months.
It's important to make another distinction - for not all crossed-arms are the same. Notice how tightly-held Donald Trump's upper arms are - positioned close to his torso. Also, crucially, his hands are hidden. This is significant for emotions of Low Confidence, Low Emotional Comfort, and Defensiveness - indicating a classic Beta mindset.
Summary: While President Trump's body language during this exchange does not indicate outright deception - his emotions of defensiveness, low emotional comfort, and low confidence are highly suggestive of it. These emotions have been expressed by the President with increasing frequency - particularly within the last 90 days.
Moreover - Disdain, Disgust, feelings of Repulsion, and Smugness are non-contextual when discussing soldiers lost in combat. In contrast, an emotion we would expect to see here is Empathy - and yet there is none.
Group Appearances and One-on-One
Online Courses Available
Body Language Analysis No. 4095: Celtics' Gordon Hayward Breaks His Leg in Dramatic Fashion During Game with Cavaliers
Body Language Analysis No. 4093: Fear and Harvey Weinstein - Emma Watson's Reaction
Body Language Analysis No. 4091: John Kelly's Press Briefing, "I'm not quitting"/"I'm not getting fired"
Body Language Analysis No. 4089: Donald Trump's Reaction to Bob Corker's World War III Comment
Body Language Analysis No. 4082: Brother of Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas Shooter)
Body Language Analysis No. 4075: Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith Steps Down After Massive Hack/Data Breach
Body Language Analysis No. 4026: Aubrey Plaza, Ingrid Goes West, and Emotional Intelligence
Body Language Analysis No. 4006: Vladimir Putin and Melania Trump at the G20
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3871: Emma Watson's Old Habit, Harry Potter Outtake and Anxiety