Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3869: James Clapper regarding Alleged Wiretap of Trump — Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
What follows is the transcript of the currently available on-line video of Mr. Clapper’s interview with Chuck Todd, as well as a partial nonverbal analysis.
CHUCK TODD: Ah, let me start with the President’s tweets, ah, yesterday, ah, this idea that maybe President Obama ordered an illegal wiretap of his offices — if something like that happened, would this be something that you would be aware of?
JAMES CLAPPER: I would certainly hope so. Ah, I, I can say, obviously I’m not, I can’t speak officially anymore, ah, but I will say that for (0:19–0:21) the part of the National Security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the ah, the Pres-, the President-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign. Ah, I can’t speak for, ah, other title-III authorized, ah, entities in the government, or, ah, a state or local entity.
TODD: Yeah, ah, I was just going to say, if the FBI, for instance, d- had a FISA Court order for some sort, for a surveillance, would that information you would know or not know?
CLAPPER: (over-talking): Yes.
TODD: You would be told things.
CLAPPER: I would know that.
TODD (over-talking): If there was a FISA Court order -
CLAPPER (over-talking): Yes.
TODD: On something like this, um -
CLAPPER (over-talking): Something like this, absolutely.
TODD: — and at this point, you can’t confirm or deny whether that exists?
CLAPPER: I can deny it. (1:00–1:02, Head Torque)
TODD: There is no FISA court order
CLAPPER: Not, not to my knowledge.
TODD: Of anything at Trump Tower?
TODD: Well that’s an important, ah, revelation at this point.
During 0:19–0:21, as Mr. Clapper says, “… I will say that for …”, he displays what is known as a Self-Righteous Head Wiggle (SRHW). As the name implies, a self-righteous head wiggle is displayed by those who have a high confidence that the opinion or idea which they’re expressing is correct. Such individuals have emotional tones, that are for the moment, in a high alpha state. A SRHW is comprised of a relatively rapid, side-to-side movement of the head-neck — and often the torso too — as well as occasionally with the jaw.
Don’t confuse the SRHW with what, in this example, occurred just prior to it — when Mr. Clapper is adjusting/twisting his butt and back toward the back of his chair. This maneuver is an example of what is known as an “Alpha-Up Regulator” (of which there are many). It signals a person (usually in an already alpha mindset) recognizes (subconsciously and at the edge of consciousness) the need to be a bit more assertive and thus, is metaphorically “stepping up to the plate” (rather than shrinking back). Clapper knows he is no longer Director of National Intelligence, yet he feels the need and responsibility — for the moment, to speak with the authority which he carried only a short time ago.
This behavior is not able to be well-represented in a photograph — please view the video to appreciate the full dynamic nature of this body language.
Later in the video:
During 1:00–1:02, as James Clapper says, “I can deny it”, he displays what is known as a “Head Torque”. A head torque is also a high-alpha signal. It’s composed of a twisting (rotating) motion of the head and neck — together with a simultaneous thrusting forward of the head. A head torque signals a particularly determined and adamant emotional tone.
While not required (but is seen here), the additional component of prolonged or prominent blinking/eyelid closure, in this context, acts as an adamant-amplifier.
It’s also common that a head torque is accompanied with anger and/or frustration — however, neither of these emotions are present in this moment of head torquing.
A head torque is also a significantly dynamic nonverbal signal, please watch the video.
Summary: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s nonverbal behavior in this video segment, indicates he is being sincere and honest when he said that there was no FISA Court Order under his jurisdiction for the surveillance of Donald Trump, Trump’s campaign or Trump Tower — and if there were, he would have known about it.
This post and the associated website serve as reference sources for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts — not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.