Body Language Experts Tell Us Donald Trump's Mugshot Screams Self-Destruction

On August 24, Donald Trump became the first president in U.S. history to have a mugshot taken. The 45th president of the United States touched down in Georgia around 7 p.m. local time and was escorted to Fulton County, where he turned himself in on felony charges, according to CNN. All the charges brought against President Trump in Georgia are related to his attempts to challenge the 2020 election results. Many people were anxious to see Trump's mugshot photo, released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office shortly after Trump posted bond and headed back to the airport. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mugshot photo quickly went viral on social media.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Trump said, "They insisted on a mugshot, and I agreed to do that. This is the only time I've ever taken a mugshot," and added, "It is not a comfortable feeling — especially when you've done nothing wrong." Trump didn't smile in his mugshot photo, but he did appear to have an unamused or even angry facial expression. He kept his chin slightly down as he peered up into the camera lens with his brow furrowed. In order to get some additional insight into the photo, Nicki Swift reached out to renowned body language expert and co-founder of Truthplane, Mark Bowden. He began by explaining that it's not easy to get a true sense of body language from one still image but that the way the photo makes others feel is really what's key.

To many people, Donald Trump looks angry in his mugshot

Body language expert Mark Bowden agrees that people looking at Donald Trump's mugshot photo would get the sense that he's angry. Pointing out his tilted forehead, "knitted" eyebrows, and closed lips, Bowden says that Trump's expression makes it seem he is angry at the people viewing the photo. "Whether intended or not, there's a perceived aggression being directed at us, the viewer, or who we may perceive the viewer or image taker to be," Bowden tells Nicki Siwft exclusively.

Bowden compared Trump's mugshot to Stanley Kubrick's classic anti-hero depictions, "where the central character lowers their forehead and stares at the camera to convey a peak in their loss of any grip on reality. This is to indicate a deranged or psychotic state. It's possible that Trump was aiming to present a challenging look to his detractors, but instead, he accidentally fell into a more bizarre category of classic 20th Century film imagery: Kubrick's outsider descending into self-destruction," he says. That said, Bowden also presented the flip side. Those who support President Trump "may see a heroic man taking aim at his enemy."

But, whether the 2024 presidential hopeful is seen as a hero or a criminal, Bowden says there's a "kind of romanticism and exaggeration that is congruent with Trump's grand brand."

Donald Trump is a 'media master'

NickiSwift also chatted with Jess Ponce III, body language expert, communication coach, and author of "A.W.E.S.O.M.E.," to get a second take. Ponce says that taking a mugshot photo is generally uncomfortable, but how the person in the photo handles the circumstances can vary. For example, Ponce says that some people can appear "self-conscious or awkward" in a mugshot photo while others will look "pissed off." Without a second guess, Ponce recognizes that the latter applies to Donald Trump.

Ponce noticed some of the same elements in Trump's expression that gives off a feeling of anger, from "his raised eyebrows, glare, and forward pose." Interestingly, Ponce doesn't believe that Trump is really upset about the situation he's been put in, but rather, purposely giving people a show. "Trump is a media master who knows this photo will go viral. He took the opportunity of this rather unpleasant situation to make a point — a rather aggressive point. He will not falter or look weak," Ponce says.

Donald Trump is 'self-aware' in his mugshot photo

Donald Trump's surrender in Fulton County, Georgia, wasn't his first. He's actually done this three other times, though this did mark his very first and only mugshot. In Fulton County, Trump faces several charges, including conspiracy to commit false statements and writings and filing false documents. If convicted, Trump, inmate number P01135809 in Fulton County, faces time behind bars. However, he maintains that he is innocent. "What has taken place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong, and everybody knows it," he told reporters at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport before departing (via NewsNation).

Given this is how Trump feels and how he's chosen to respond to what's going on, body language expert Jess Ponce III believes that Trump was very self-aware when posing for his mugshot photo. "He was keenly in touch with how this would come across and seized a rather awkward moment to appear strong," Ponce tells Nicki Swift.