Former President Donald Trump's expression as he glared into the camera that was taking his well-publicized mug shot likely represented more than just a pose devised for use on campaign merchandise, as many have suggested, according to a body language expert.
Ms. Constantine spoke with The Epoch Times about what Mr. Trump's expression showed, and about other clues she detected during his interview with Tucker Carlson. She also revealed what the body language of the eight debating Republicans told her about whether they were being truthful.
The Tucker Carlson interview with President Trump was released five minutes before the Republican presidential debate began without him in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Aug. 23.
The next day, Mr. Trump surrendered to authorities at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia. After about 20 minutes, he was released on a $200,000 bond.
And shortly after, President Trump posted his mug shot to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. With it, he posted the words “Election interference. Never surrender!” in all capital letters, along with the date, as if to note the historical significance.
Within three days, that post—his first on the platform in 31 months—had been viewed more than 249 million times. And it was helping him rake in millions in campaign cash through the sale of merchandise emblazoned with the image.
President Trump's body language in the photo shows that it was "taking all he can do not to act" on his rage, Ms. Constantine said.
The photo chronicles the first time a former U.S. president has been booked in jail and photographed for a mug shot, something President Trump called a "terrible experience" and a “very sad day for our country.”
Now, President Trump and 18 associates face charges in Georgia over their alleged efforts to challenge the official results of the 2020 election. The popular former president also faces federal charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith in Washington, with a trial date arranged for March 2024.Another March 2024 trial will address state charges in New York for President Trump's alleged efforts to make false bookkeeping entries. Two months after that, another federal case in Florida brought by Mr. Smith involves charges surrounding President Trump's possession of national defense documents from his time in office.
Mug Shot Merchandising
Almost immediately after the Georgia mug shot photo was released, the official campaign store for President Trump's Save America PAC began selling a range of merchandise, all emblazoned with the image and the words “Never Surrender.”
Save America has been President Trump's primary fundraising and political spending organization since leaving office.
A $12 donation to Save America buys a bumper sticker with President Trump's scowling face. For $15, donors can receive a pair of beverage coolers with the image. There are coffee mugs for $25, signed posters for $28, and T-shirts for $34.Within two days, $7.1 million in donations flooded in, according to a post on X by campaign spokesman Steven Cheung.
Before heading to the jail to turn himself in, President Trump golfed that morning at his course at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
"As per usual, nothing gets him down," said Alina Habba, general counsel and spokeswoman for Save America in an interview the next day with political commentator Benny Johnson.
"I was very adamant about the fact that I didn't think it was appropriate," she said. "I thought, this is a sad moment in history. And there's nothing funny about it. And because we may be [legally] immune [to the charges] does not make this a joke. And I voiced my opinion.
“He doesn't always listen to me, but, you know, I'd like to think that you put a little seed in his ear. At the end of the day, he did, and [his expression in the photo] looks how he felt."Then, she grinned and continued, "I hate to tell you, Fani. It kind of worked for us. So thanks."
The taunting remark was aimed at Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the Georgia charges against President Trump. If convicted of all the charges currently against him, he could face 700 years in prison.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
'Emotionally Affected' FavoriteBut the charges haven't dampened enthusiasm surrounding President Trump's presidential campaign.
And millions tuned in on Aug. 23, when former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released his 46-minute interview with President Trump. In it, they talked about a wide range of subjects, while the other candidates tussled on the debate stage in Milwaukee.
"He was leaning forward. His arms, of course, were rested on his thighs, leaning in like he normally does. That is his norm."
But, she added, “I did see a Donald Trump that was in deep thought. There were moments where he would look down, and you'd see his eyes blink, kind of slightly flutter, like when he was asked about why he wasn’t part of the debate. And he was saying that he wasn't going to be a part of being attacked.
"So I think that what he was exhibiting was a lot of emotion. That's why your eyes look down.
"And anytime you're in deep thought or processing a lot of those emotions, your eyes go down, and that, coupled with rapid eye blinking, is showing a little bit of distress."
President Trump was not “as bombastic as we've normally seen him," Ms. Constantine said. "He was more subdued. You can see that everything he’s going through has emotionally affected him."His interview body language revealed "he was [feeling] beaten up," she said.
"He is narcissistic," she said. "And narcissists naturally don't want to be attacked. They don't want their status or anything else attacked."
For that reason, she wasn’t surprised, she said, that he declined to participate in the debate, even as other lagging candidates clamored to qualify to be part of the fray.
“A lot of times, narcissists feel victimized," Ms. Constantine said. "I think that President Trump deals with that emotionally. They're very thin-skinned. He's very much like that, but that doesn't mean that he can't get the job [of president of the United States] done.”
Reading Ron DeSantis
The body language of the eight presidential hopefuls in the GOP debate also intrigued her.
Participating were former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador under President Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
Six other candidates didn't meet the minimum donor and polling requirements to appear on the debate stage.
Polls consistently show President Trump is far ahead of the rest of the pack. Mr. DeSantis consistently places second in polling."DeSantis really did a great job—I think he nailed it," Ms. Constantine said, of the popular governor's debate performance.
He was especially effective, she said, when he listed his leadership successes in Florida.
"I can't remember what he said word for word, but basically it was, 'The reason why all this has happened is because of,' and he paused, and said, 'me!'"
It was a "very powerful" delivery, she said. And that's typical of his communication.
He sometimes looks like his smile is not authentic and perhaps has been coached. But that's not as important to watch as his hand gestures, she said.
They often "chop or they slide to the side," revealing "he means what he says and says what he means," Ms. Constantine said.
She doesn't agree with the pervasive narrative that Mr. DeSantis doesn't relate well to people. She's watched him speak to a room of about 500, and everyone around her was captivated, she said. When she spoke to him briefly in person, he was engaging and personable.
His body language communicates that "he's not going to be bullied, and he doesn't have any fear of standing up to voice a dispute," she said.
It also suggests "he has a very strong moral compass. And he also has a very strong opinions."
It's true that "he doesn't emote a lot," she said. "But sometimes highly, highly intelligent people don't.
"But I didn't see one clue that stood out to me as awkward. Not one. He puts his hands to his side. He motions and gestures on point. He's not methodical. Everything's in timing, and it's natural. You see he just really believes in what he's doing."
'Over-Smiling' Ramaswamy Takes on OpponentsThat's in sharp contrast to what Ms. Constantine observed in entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Mr. DeSantis's closest rival.
During the debate, "he raised his hands really high," as "visionaries" do, she said. "And that kind of corresponds with his personality."
She also noticed his "great, big, bright smile—over-smiling a lot of times. He certainly is banking on a lot of his own natural charisma and likability.
"I call it the Obama effect. [Former President Barack] Obama did the same thing with that bright, wide smile, which is sometimes very well-received.
"On the other hand, it can also be a way of being dismissive."
As Mr. Ramaswamy clashed with Mr. Christie during the debate, "he over-smiles," she said.
"He goes right into that big smile. So that also can be a very guarded, dismissive way to self-protect, or blow someone off, [showing you're] thinking, 'You're kind of full of baloney!'
She also took notice of several key body language clues when Mr. Ramaswamy and Mr. Pence tangled on the debate stage.
"They were basically pointing fingers [at each other], like a sword match."
As the combativeness between them escalated, Ms. Constantine noticed Mr. Pence "kicked his foot out. You can see his foot slightly come out. And that is what we call an action stance. He leans his body in, and you saw his leg come out in the back. He's got his pointed finger."
Revealing GesturesMs. Haley used "power gestures," Ms. Constantine noted. "But she has a very feminine way of being powerful.
"She does exhibit some anger in her facial expressions. Sometimes women in power tend to go there to fit in with the power. She's in this power panel of all men. So she almost has to tone that femininity down and then push the power up a little bit more."
In watching Mr. Christie's body language, she noted that "he really comes across as being a bully."
But he also communicates calm confidence, she said.
"He's his own guy, and he's always been that way—that's been his baseline, where he leans into the podium on one elbow," as if to say, "Hey guys, this is a matter of fact..."
Mr. Scott's body language illustrates that he speaks truthfully with nothing to hide, said Ms. Constantine. She teaches an online course called "How to Spot a Liar in 7 Seconds or Less" and is frequently hired to help spot when people aren't telling the truth.
Mr. Scott exhibits a classic "honesty pose," she said. "Anytime you have your arms out, it means, 'I'm open and honest.'"
Especially when the hands are held between the shoulders and the hips, "that's the truth zone," she said. "That's where we deliver the truth. So when his palms are up, it's [showing] honesty, feedback, collaboration, engagement, and then when his fingers are open, that's saying 'I'm an open book. I'm not going to hide anything.'"
Mr. Pence also impressed her with body language that signaled honesty.
Faking TruthfulnessPeople can be trained to appear truthful if they're allowed to practice responses "over and over and over again, and if they can convince themselves that what they're stating is true, even if it's not true," she said.
But a skilled examiner or interviewer can "ask the questions in different ways to get the truth out," she said.
It's a technique jury-selection specialists use to unearth biases and expose information prospective jurors may be trying to hide.
To appear honest, public speakers can learn to keep their palms up, have bright eyes, and avoid blinking rapidly, licking their lips, or shrugging, she said. Hiding lies is easier when delivering prepared remarks.
But former President Bill Clinton showed many clues when asked about whether he'd had an extramarital sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Though he initially denied the accusation publicly, he later admitted it.
When he was being deceptive when speaking about the affair, "you could see his eye-blinking rapidly increase dramatically," she said. "And then when he pointed his finger and locked eyes.
"Locking eyes, rather than averting eyes, is associated with deception. So locking eyes and trying to convince by raising your eyebrows, raising your upper eyelid, pointing at someone, is more associated with deception."
Overall, if a person truly believes what he or she is saying is true, the body language can appear truthful, even to experts, she said.
As she closely watched the Republican presidential candidates debate, "nobody jumped out to me as being deceptive," she said.
But that might be because the questions weren't the kind that might force an effort to hide the truth, she added.
"When I looked at Vivek, I thought he did a lot of dodging," she said. "He was very polished, presidential, and charismatic."
But his over-smiling merits watchfulness, she said.
"People that tend to over-smile will lose authority," she said. "When you're talking about specifics, important aspects, or responses, your facial expressions should come neutral."
"Vivek was a little bit on the charismatic side, so we really need to keep watching him. When they're answering questions that are important, they should go into a neutral expression, rather than a deep smile.
Petr Svab, Katabella Roberts, Nathan Worcester, and Janice Hisle contributed to this report.