scorecardDonald Trump looks 'ready for battle' in his mugshot but 'a little bit of fear' is leaking through, a body language expert says
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Donald Trump looks 'ready for battle' in his mugshot but 'a little bit of fear' is leaking through, a body language expert says

Rebecca Cohen   

Donald Trump looks 'ready for battle' in his mugshot but 'a little bit of fear' is leaking through, a body language expert says
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
A mugshot of Donald Trump taken at the Fulton County Sheriff's Office on August 24, 2023.    Fulton County Sheriff's Office
  • Former President Donald Trump is "ready for battle" in his Georgia mugshot, according to a body language expert.
  • But the expert said his pose "indirectly leaks a little bit of fear" over DA Fani Willis' case.

A body language expert says Donald Trump's historic mugshot in Georgia shows he's "ready for battle" — but also reveals a bit of fear at the strength of the criminal case against him.

Trump voluntarily surrendered to Fulton County, Georgia authorities on Thursday after being charged in a sprawling indictment that alleges he and 18 co-defendants conspired to overturn the 2020 election in the state.

Janine Driver, CEO of the Body Language Institute, told Insider body language "can convey various messages and emotions without the need for words," and that in Trump's first mugshot, he "lowers his head, grimaces, and looks up, with his eyebrows down in anger, as he shoots an icy glare."

Driver said that his choice to tilt his head down can show "judgment or negative internal emotion and disapproval."

"Lowering the head in body language can contribute to the perception of power and dominance" by projecting a "sense of being in control and aware of their surroundings," Driver said, adding that it could also communicate a "sense of confidence and self-assuredness."

Driver said she assumed Trump would have taken an alternate route, choosing to tilt his head back while the chin is up, which can show an attitude of "I'm looking down my nose at you" to communicate contempt, or moral superiority.

"And we don't see that," she said. "Instead, we see a guy that's ready for battle," adding that it "indirectly leaks a little bit of fear because he's ready for battle instead of being contemptuous and saying 'I'm above everybody,' he's saying 'I'm not going to back down.'"

This may indicate, Driver noted, that Trump "knew it was coming" and that he might be saying [Willis] has "got a case," but that he is "going to go down fighting."

She wondered if he chose this pose to evoke intimidation, like a "mother doing it to her teenager after coming home late, as a way of passing judgment and expressing disappointment."

Plus, Driver added, lowering one's head creates an optical illusion — "making the top of President Trump's head appear wider" — which, according to studies and research Driver cited, shows "people may perceive individuals with bigger heads as more intelligent or powerful."

"This perception may be due to the association between head size and brain size, which is often linked to intelligence," Driver noted. "However, it's essential to note that this perception is not always accurate, as intelligence and power are multifaceted traits influenced by various factors."

Driver noted of the mugshot, "This is, basically, 'You've got a case, but I'm not backing down,' versus 'You've got nothing on me, this is a joke.'"

Joe Navarro, CEO of JN Forensics, noted that the former president is "well aware that this photo will have a long shelf-life," indicating he was thoughtful about his pose.

And Trump and his campaign are already seeking to profit off of it. Past media reports said his campaign staff were hoping to use a mugshot to hawk merchandise. Soon after being booked in Fulton Couty jail on Thursday, Trump posted to X for the first time in months with the mugshot — and shared a website to donate to his 2024 presidential campaign.




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