Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Body Language Analysis №4678: Joe Tacopina — Trump’s Newest Attorney —Eyes Wide Open


Trump’s newest attorney, Joe Tacopina, recently made the rounds on multiple national news networks. The video above, from MSNBC, includes an interview with Ari Melber.

Unlike most of my analyses, this one is written largely, but not entirely, from a differential diagnostic/teaching point-of-view (using the Socratic method).

The descriptions are included below the corresponding images.

Trigger Warning: This post also includes references to and images of cult leaders responsible for deaths and mass-suicides — as well as a mass-murderer.


One particular nonverbal display Mr. Tacopina displayed prominently (although, crucially, not continuously) during this interview was that both of his upper eyelids were frequently opened widely.

Taken in isolation, when both eyelids are widely opened, it should bring to mind the following possible thought-emotions/causes:

  • Surprise
  • Emotional Shock/Emotional Processing
  • Rage (Extreme Anger)
  • Fear
  • Drugs (Stimulants)
  • Psychosis (some, but not all examples Psychoses)
  • Melodrama/Deliberate Hyperbole (i.e., Over-acting, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”)
  • Side-effect of Forehead Botox (rare to unusual)
  • Medical Conditions (i.e., Thyroid Eye Disease, Parinaud’s syndrome, Rare lesions of the midbrain, etc.)



Surprise is a very short-lived thought-emotion (literally lasting only a second or two, no more) while Emotional Processing/Emotional Shock lasts a much longer time. Can you differentiate these two nonverbal displays? (Christine Lagarde, above, is displaying true surprise)

Is the behavior Mr. Tacopina displaying indicative of Surprise? Why/why not? Is the behavior of Mr. Tacopina displaying Emotional Processing/Emotional Shock? Why/why not?

Stimulants can also be a possible cause of frequent bilateral widely opened eyelids. What are some other behaviors/findings you would typically see in a person who is using stimulants?

What about Melodrama/Hyperbolic behavior? Never forget: Acting is a form of lying, but with consent of the audience — while lying is acting without the audience’s consent.


Thus, most everyone over-acts (melodrama) whilst lying — but only a relatively small percentage will under-act (i.e., displaying a blunted affect relative to any given situation), (Nikki Haley, above, captured in a Hyperbolic moment).

This behavioral axiom is particularly telling during confrontations, testimonies, on-camera scenarios, etc. — when the accused/suspected person is in the limelight.

Therefore, when a person is behaving melodramatically, there’s a high to very high-likelihood that they’re also lying.


Bilateral and frequently elevated upper eyelids (as well as sometimes retracted lower eyelids) are also possible indications of fear. Is Tacopina exhibiting other signs of possible fear? If so, what? (Putin, above, is exhibiting Fear and Emotional Shock)

Are there other signs of possible rage (extreme anger) present? Intriguingly, although mild and moderate levels of anger are associated with partial closure of one’s eyelids, when anger escalates to high levels, the eyelids will open widely.


Mike Shanahan (circa 2010) amidst a moment of moderate anger crescendoing to rage.

While some individuals with Psychosis have bilateral widely opened eyelids, not all people with psychosis exhibit this finding.

*Trigger Warning for next three posts (18 through 20)*


Examples of Psychotic individuals exhibiting bilateral widely-opened eyelids include Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate Cult and associated mass suicide), …


…Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre), …


… and Charles Manson.

Occasionally (unusual, but not rare), people with moderate to heavy Botox treatments to their forehead will have the secondary side effect of eyelids that open much too wide than is their intention. Has Tacopina had relatively recent Botox injections in his forehead?


Callista Gingrich’s widely opened eyelids in this image are secondary to excessive Botox in her forehead.

Which of the above causes of bilateral eyelid retraction are also associated with diminished impulse control? (i.e., reaching across Ari Melber’s desk and repeatedly invading Melber’s personal space [intimate space] whilst trying to grab a document/notes out of his hand)? i.e., here during 7:06…,


… and here during 7:10 …


… and yet another invasion into Melber’s personal space (intimate space) during 9:44.

Thyroid eye disease can also result in bilateral eyelid retraction (as well as eyeballs [globes] which are pushed forward/”stick out” (aka proptosis or exophthalmos). The above image is a patient with both proptosis and extreme bilateral eyelid retraction.

Although medical testing would be required to rule this out, Tacopina does not have the appearance typical of Thyroid Eye Disease.

Also, we would expect eyelid retraction associated with Thyroid Eye Disease to be persistent, not intermittent — and behaviorally linked.

There are other (much rarer) causes of eyelid retraction, i.e., certain lesions of midbrain, such as Parinaud’s syndrome.


Parinaud’s syndrome can be ruled-out in Tacopina’s case, given his ability to also gaze upward. A key feature of Parinaud’s Syndrome is a paralysis of upwards gaze seen here in another interview given the same day.

Another notable behavior exhibited by Mr. Tacopina was his frequent use of ad hominem attacks against Michael Cohen.

At the very least, those who use disparaging verbal language are signaling that their arguments are weak (or non-existent). Ad hominem language is also a behavior of those who are perpetrating deception.

Moreover, Tacopina denies what was obviously and factually-proven lie committed by Donald Trump — saying it wasn’t a lie because it wasn’t done under oath (i.e., Perjury. Of course, the vast majority of lying is not done under-oath).

This Lying vs. Perjury distinction is Law School and Human Behavior 101 material — so fundamental and profound, that virtually every adult should have (along with Melber) caught it as they watched this interview.

Why is an experienced attorney, being interviewed on a major network, whose client is the former President of the United States, so blatantly misrepresenting basic law, psychology, and common sense?

Early in Ari Melber’s interview, Melber asks Tacopina, “Is Stormy Daniels a lawyer?” — Tacopina then asks the exact same question back to Melber, “Is Stormy Daniels a lawyer?”, Melber answers, “Yeah.”

Tacopina repeats a truncated version of the question again, “A lawyer?” — Melber re-asks, “Yeah. Is Stormy Daniels a Lawyer?”

Tacopina then says, “I thought you asking [sic] if she’s a liar. Is she a lawyer? I, I [stuttering and pausing] don’t think she’s a lawyer. I don’t think her lawyer was a lawyer [chuckling/feigned laughing]. But, ah, Stormy Daniels is not a lawyer.”


Note as Tacopina says, “liar” (during 0:28) “I thought you asking [sic] if she’s a liar”), Tacopina makes the following expression (please watch the video, as it’s impossible to capture the dynamics in a still image).

This is an example of a Rationalization Rapport Empathy Expression (R2E2). A Rationalization Rapport Empathy Expression is displayed by everyone from time-to-time.

However, those who display the R2E2 often or at crucial moments are trying to rationalize their behavior (and/or trying to gain your support in co-rationalizing). They’re also trying to build rapport with you and gain your empathy for their situation, opinion, or plan.

R2E2 can look a lot like disgust or contempt (Can you tell the difference?).

When you see an R2E2 displayed, always ask yourself, “Why is this person trying so hard to gain my rapport and empathy? Why do they want me as a co-rationalizer? Are they displaying this behavior too frequently?

Ryan Goodman (Chaired Professor NYU Law, Former Special Counsel Dept of Defense, Former Chaired Professor Harvard Law, etc.) tweeted yesterday, “Joe Tacopina has had an attorney-client relationship with Stormy Daniels.”

Here is the link to Ryan Goodman’s tweet https://twitter.com/rgoodlaw/status/1636737103370285062 

…and here is Goodman’s screenshot of a transcript of crucial exchange between Tacopina and Don Lemon during an exchange on CNN in 2018:

The reason Tacopina asked, re-asked, and re-asked again the above-noted question, stuttered, chuckled/feigned laughter, and displayed an R2E2 expression is because all of the following (over-lapping reasons) are true:

A. The question caught him off guard

B. He was stalling for time

C. The question gave him significant anxiety

D. Tacopina had an attorney-client relationship with Stormy Daniels

E. Tacopina knows he cannot represent Trump in any case relating to Stormy Daniels

E. Tacopina knows that he’s not being forthright.

F. Moreover, Tacopina’s statement, “I thought you asking [sic] if she’s a liar (referring to Stormy Daniels) is a form of projection/Freudian Slip — for Tacopina committed a lie of omission by not telling Ari Melber, the audience, (and possibly Trump) that he, in fact by his own description, had an Attorney-client relationship with Ms. Daniels.


SUMMARY: Joe Tacopina’s eyelids were opened widely and frequently during this interview.

Whenever you see a person frequently displaying bilaterally, widely opened (upper) eyelids, it should bring to mind the following possible thought-emotions/causes:

• Surprise

• Emotional Shock/Emotional Processing

• Rage (Extreme Anger)

• Fear

• Drugs (Stimulants)

• Psychosis

• Melodrama/Deliberate Hyperbole (thus possible deception)

• Side-effect of Forehead Botox

• Medical Conditions

Joe Tacopina’s repeated ad hominem attacks demonstrate his belief that his client, Donald Trump, has a weak defense.

Joe Tacopina is claiming Trump did not lie because it’s not “material, under oath, in a proceeding”. Tacopina is ethically wrong — and factually and legally incorrect.

In this interview, Joe Tacopina exhibited significantly diminished impulse control. Why?

Joe Tacopina, by his own admission, had a previous attorney-client relationship with Stormy Daniels and thus cannot represent Donald Trump in any manner related to her.

Did Joe Tacopina ever reveal to Donald Trump that he had had an attorney-client relationship with Stormy Daniels? If so, did this reveal occur prior to or since Tacopina taking Trump on as his client?

Did Donald Trump knowingly retain, or has he continued to keep Joe Tacopina as his attorney, in an effort to gain knowledge, evidence, and privileged insight to what he otherwise would not have access?

All professionals interested in learning Body Language, please email (Jack@BodyLanguageSuccess.com) or DM me — esp. attorneys, judges, actors, directors, those in crisis management, C-level executives, sales professionals, teachers, parents, and health care professionals.