Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Body Language Analysis No. 4387: Donald Trump Welcomes Foreign Interference in US Elections - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Last week, ABC News released a portion of George Stephanopoulos' extended interview with President Trump. Additional segments were subsequently released. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of the initial video.

Throughout the Oval Office portion of this interview, the President is seated while Stephanopoulos remains standing. Although he has significant home field advantage, this dynamic places Trump at a significant detriment. This is particularly true since Stephanopoulos is shorter and thinner.

George Stephanopoulos also had one or both of his palms facing downward on the Resolute Desk during the majority of this interview. Additionally, Stephanopoulos was leaning mildly-to-moderately forward. This nonverbal posture further up-regulates his status to a relative alpha with the President assuming a relative beta position.

At no time does President Trump point his torso or any other part of his body fully toward Stephanopoulos. Sitting in the most powerful room in the World, with a profound home-field advantage, in the context of the two men being filmed for an interview, Trump's refusal to 'face his problems (here, Stephanopoulos' questions) head-on' sends strong signals of evasiveness, emotional discomfort, weakness, and deception to both his interviewer - and to the world.

George Stephanopoulos, of course, has another advantage. As a journalist, he has the rare experience of becoming accustomed to the Oval Office years prior to this interview during his tenure as the White House Communications Director and Senior Advisor to President Clinton. He also interviewed Presidents G.W. Bush and Barack Obama multiple times in that very room.

Notice too, the volume and tone of Stephanopoulos' speech. Although he questions the President with assertiveness, his vocal qualities tend toward friendliness - causing Trump to lower his guard. In the ensuing days, the President will be partially backpedaling.

Continuing at 0:58, George Stephanopoulos says, "Why does it bother you so much?"

Donald Trump answers, "Ah - because [long pause] it's untrue. I like the truth. You know I'm actually a very honest guy [quick inhale] If I thought they were correct - I [stammer] wouldn't be complaining at all ..."

In rapid succession, Trump looks down to his left, gazes to his center, pauses at length, then looks directly left, and next to his center, then up to his left.

President Trump's slow and hesitant response to this question is conspicuous. His darting gaze indicates that he was - first trying to formulate the syntax to an answer - then he was trying to recall an audio memory/answer to Stephanopoulos' question - and next trying to recall visual memory/answer to this question. These are all indications that the President was scrambling to answer a straightforward question.

Note that just after he says, "I like the truth" and as he is saying, "You know I'm actually a very honest guy" - he looks down and away from Stephanopoulos as he also closes his eyes.

His use of the word, "actually" in this context is also a tell. Properly used, "actually" is used to show contrast, emphasis, and 'in a distinction to'. Stephanopoulos didn't question his honesty here - he just asked (referring to the new poll results), "Why does it bother you so much?". So, why did Trump use the word "actually"? When a person says, "actually" - it's often used as a form of verbal backpedaling - and demonstrative of the speaker's emotional discomfort with their own answer (indicating hedging or deception). Moreover, taken in isolation, an unsolicited defense of one's honesty is a telltale sign of dishonesty. His honesty wasn't being questioned - why is he defending it?

Yet another indication of deception here, (whilst proclaiming his own honesty) - is Trump's audible inhale and very quick segue to his next sentence as he finishes saying, "You know I'm actually a very honest guy". He told a lie and, subconsciously, he wants to cover-up his deception by immediately proceeding to the next sentence. He does so too quickly. A person declaring their honesty (if it were even being questioned) would pause after saying it, letting their declaration (with a confident tone) hang in the air.

Note that during 1:45, the President hesitates before he calls his son a "young man" ("I mean I was reading that my son was gonna to go to jail, thisa [sic] good [pause] young man"). He looks down to his left in quick succession here (1:44, 1:45). This is the quadrant we often look toward when deciding on word choice and syntax. Donald Trump Jr. is 41 years old. Although the term, "young man" is slang, and, as with all slang, it means different things to different people, most of us would not describe a 41-year-old man as a "young man". The President's use of this description (which he has used on multiple occasions) is a psychological ploy attempting to soften public opinion and to excuse his son's alleged behavior.

As the President says, "And then the report comes out" (during 2:16 - 2:17), he rocks forward-and-backward in his chair. This signals the excessive motion of his lower extremities - indicating an adrenaline surge (flight or fight) and significant anxiety. Please watch the video, as this chair rocking dynamic cannot be captured in a still image.

Simultaneously, President Trump also stares into the middle distance while displaying a mild fear expression. His fear is particularly conveyed with his raised inner (medial) eyebrows.

During 2:33 - 2:35, the President gazes up to his left as he says, "I tell ya what, I've seen a lot of things over my life, I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI." Looking up to one's left (more so for right-hand dominant people), is the quadrant to which we look when we're visually recalling an event. This eye gaze dynamic, in this context, indicates with high likelihood, that the President was visually remembering an occasion when he had called the FBI.

During 2:56, as he says, "The FBI director is wrong", he forms his lips in a dramatic configuration. Such hyperbolic mouth movements are quite common with Trump - and for all individuals in settings where they believe they're alpha/hyper-alpha to others who (or about whom) they're speaking. In this context, Trump's alpha projection could either apply to George Stephanopoulos, FBI director Christopher Wray, or both.

Beginning at 2:56, George Stephanopoulos asks, "Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on an opponent, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?"

At the precise moment Stephanopoulos says, "Russia", Trump is simultaneously closing his eyes and swallowing hard. Trump's eyelid closure is a form of decreased eye contact - and a nonverbal manifestation of his attempt at distancing himself from the subject of his deception. The President's hard swallow demonstrates his dry and tightened throat triggered by his accompanying anxiety.

A nonverbal tell of profound importance occurs just after Stephanopoulos says, "Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on an ..." - Trump displays what is known as a Forward Lip Purse (3:02 - 3:04). A forward lip purse (not to be confused with a Lateral Lip Purse) signals undisclosed disagreement and/or clandestine plans. A person who makes a forward lip purse always perceives themselves to be Alpha relative to those with whom they're interacting. They also believe they have a good chance of success with their plans.

This is Trump's Forward Lip Purse captured during the same split second from an anterior angle (on a different video available via twitter (4:04 - 4:06  

Notice also, that the President is looking down to his left during this forward lip purse. This is the quadrant toward which we look when we're choosing our words and formulating syntax. Trump's word choice was telling, "I think maybe you do both. I think you might [pause] wanna listen. I don't - there's nothing wrong with listening..."

On such an important matter - if he truly believed his conduct was lawful, he should not say, "I think", rather he should say, "I know" or simply, "You'd want to listen." But he didn't. He wavered, saying, "I think." Additionally, he used the qualifier, "maybe" - and the slang, "wanna" (psychologically softening any opposition). Note also, his tone as he's says this, especially as he says, "there's nothing wrong with listening...". It's a pleading, rationalizing, whiny tone.

At other times during this video, President Trump makes multiple similar rationalizing and hedging statements with similar vocal tones, such as, "It's not an interference, they have information. I think I'd take it", and "If I thought there was something wrong I'd go maybe to the FBI - if I thought there was something wrong...", and "The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it", and "they all do it, they always have and that's the way it is".

Moreover, just after Donald Trump says, "I think maybe you do both" - the camera view is switched and his expression briefly but clearly conveys a mild-to-moderate level of fear.

During 3:12, just after he says, "If somebody called", Trump exhibits what is known as a Loose Tongue Jut. A loose tongue jut indicates the thought-emotions of: "I've been bad", "I've been caught", "I've done something stupid" (Navarro).

Take care not to confuse a Loose Tongue Jut with a Tight Tongue Jut or a Wide Open Tongue Jut.

Summary: Despite clear and longstanding campaign finance law against such practice - and his subsequent partial backpedaling, President Trump's nonverbal, verbal, and paralanguage behavior displayed in the accompanying video, indicates that not only does Donald Trump believe receiving foreign intelligence on rival politicians is acceptable behavior - but the President is actively communicating with foreign government(s) and/or their surrogates in this capacity and plans to continue doing so.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4386: Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump in Churchill's War Room

Body Language Analysis No. 4385: William Barr Testimony - Part II - Senate Judiciary Committee - 1 May 2019

Body Language Analysis No. 4384: William Barr's Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 1 May 2019 - Part I

Body Language Analysis No. 4383: William Barr's 27 March 2019 Senate Testimony

Body Language Analysis No. 4382: Why is Donald Trump Leaning Forward?

Body Language Analysis No. 4381: Trump 'jokes' about staying in office for "at least for 10 or 14 years"

Body Language Analysis No. 4380: Tiger Woods Wins his first Masters in 14 years

Body Language Analysis No. 4379: Katie Bouman, Black Holes, and Emotional Processing

Body Language Analysis No. 4339: Pre-Confession Interview of Murderer, Chris Watts