Monday, June 10, 2024

Body Language and Behavior Analysis No. 4749: Donald Trump asked if he would "Declassify the Epstein Files" – Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence

Just two days after Donald Trump was convicted on all 34 Felony counts for Election Interference, he gave an interview on Fox News. 

What follows is a body language, statement analysis, and paralanguage analysis of this exchange.

In the above video clip from that interview, Rachel Campos-Duffy asked Trump, "Would you declassify the 9/11, um, files? Trump answers, "Yeah".

Campos-Duffy continues, "Would you declassify JFK files?" Trump again answers, "Yeah", then over-talking her, he continues, "I did, I did a lot of it."

Then she asks, "Would you declassify thee [sic] Epstein files?"
Trump answers, [pause] "Yeee-ahhh...Yee-ahh. I would. I guess I would..." (note his stretching-out the word "Yeah")

Trump continues, "...I think that less so because ya know, ya don't know, it–, You don't wanna affect people's lives if it's phony stuff in there – cuz it's a lot of phony stuff with that whole [pause, inhale] world [pause, inhale] Ahum, ah, but I think I would..."

As stated in a previous analysis (No. 4747), Trump is sitting, in what for him, is a highly unusual configuration (only the second time in the last 9 years during a public appearance). His lower legs/ankles are crossed:

Trump normally sits with both feet flat on the floor.

Both in an absolute sense, but particularly with this sudden change in posture, this lower legs/ankles-crossed configuration projects thought-emotions of low confidence and emotional discomfort. 

Note also his low-steeple hand gesture (conventional low-steeple).

The conventional steeple, if used at all, should be used exceedingly sparingly. However, Trump over-uses this body language dramatically. It's a default position for him. It projects an over-compensated ego and arrogance when it's used any more than rarely and very briefly.

Rather than keeping his hands still (as he does 99% of the time), Trump taps his fingers together – demonstrating his anxiety. Because he was told about the specifics of the upcoming question:



After the question regarding the "9/11 files" and the "JFK files", much of Trump's body language changed dramatically.
Immediately prior to Campos-Duffy asking, "Would you declassify the Epstein files?", Trump changes his hand position to a lower-confidence, more psychologically protective left-hand holding the right-hand with thumb-rubbing – in a seated fig leaf (genital guarding):


Before she can finish the word, "Epstein", Trump:

• Pulls torso back, (distancing from accusation)
• Displays Loose Tongue Jut (deception, see below)
• Clenches his Jaw (anger)
• Juts his Jaw forward (adrenaline surge)
• Increases hand tension (anxiety, anger)


Before he answers, Trump looks down to his right (quadrant to which people overwhelmingly look during moments of deception, shame, guilt [both legal-culpability guilt as well as shame-guilt] and sadness) and pauses.

Notice how Trump says the word "yeah" (twice), he stretches-out the syllables (particularly the first time). He also says them with a less-confident vocal tone (unlike his first two answers to the 9/11 and JFK files).

People often stretch out syllable enunciation during moments when they're formulating lies.

This is an example of both stalling for time (to think) – as well as overcompensation (i.e., "If I try to pronounce clearly [slower, louder, stretching out syllables], my lies will sound truthful").

As he gives his answer, Trump shrugs his shoulders – three times in less than three seconds.

Shoulder shrugging in this context is profoundly telling. It indicates either an attempt to escape from responsibility – or lying. This cannot be emphasized enough... with that whole world § ahum § ah, but I think I would..."

During his answer, Trump also displays two additional Loose Tongue Juts (§) after he says, "world" and again after he says "ahum":

A Loose Tongue jut indicates:

• "I just said/about to say something stupid" 
• "I've been/about to be bad"
• "I've got/about to get caught"
• "I just lied/about to lie".

Be careful not to confuse a Loose Tongue Jut with a Tight Tongue Jut or a Wide-Open Tongue Jut, as these indicate completely different thought-emotions.

Note during these second and third Loose Tongue Juts, Trump also paused and inhaled (more time needed to lie, anxiety).

Note Trump's abundance of hedging words used in his answer:

• Yeah ("Yeee-ahhh...Yee-ahh", not "Yes")
• I guess
• I think that less so
• ya know
• ya don't know
• you don't wanna
• If
• it's phony stuff
• cuz it's a lot of phony stuff
• but
• I think I would

Note Trump used the words, "phony stuff" twice (cognitive bias, consciousness of guilt)

And, specifically, Trump's word choice of "ya know, ya don't know" is contradictory (cognitive-emotional dissonance) and bizarre. 

Moreover, Trump's vocal qualities (tone, cadence, rhythm, volume, pitch, etc.) completely changes during his answer to the "Epstein files" vs the 9/11 or the JFK files.

You don't need to be a body language expert or a behaviorist to know Trump is lying here – and that he's displaying consciousness of guilt. You merely have to have been following this story for several years. 

Here's the Rub: to note similar times, when someone who you like and trust, exhibits similar nonverbal behavior (e.g., in everyday scenarios).  

If we fall victim to confirmation bias - would most people then be able to spot the lie if we like the person to begin with? Insincerity? Manipulation?

Answer: Most of the time you wouldn't be able to spot it.

This is the opposite scenario - a person you do not like, but they're telling the truth. Objectivity matters. Science matters. Critical Thinking matters. Beware of Confirmation Bias - when evaluating your own, your adversaries', or your friends' actions/opinions.

SUMMARY: Donald Trump continues to distance himself from Jeffrey Epstein and his crimes/alleged crimes.

Trump was told by Fox News in advance that they were going to ask this question.

He will never "declassify the Epstein files". On the contrary, if he's not already done so – he'll destroy them.

Moreover, Donald Trump feels guilt (legal/culpability-guilt) associated with Jeffrey Epstein and his illicit "activities".

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