Donald Trump spent “quite a bit of time” rehearsing his mugshot face, a behaviour expert has said, observing that the former president’s carefully practised expression shows “he’s ready to fight and won’t be cowed”.
Mr Trump became the first former US president to have to pose for a mugshot as he surrendered to authorities in Georgia on Thursday over charges of seeking to overturn his 2020 election defeat in the south-eastern state.
Dr Benjamin Ruisch, a psychology lecturer at the University of Kent who has researched how Mr Trump’s behaviour affects attitudes in America, told i it looked like the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination spent “quite a bit of time practicing” his mug shot face with his campaign team.
“His facial expression appears highly calculated,” added Dr Ruisch. “It’s not an ‘off-the-cuff’ expression, but rather has probably been carefully tailored to communicate a message to his base. In short, his facial expression says to me that he’s ready to fight, and that he won’t be cowed.”
Dr Ruisch also noted a “somewhat harrowed aspect to his expression – the bloodshot eyes, the slightly tousled hair -that suggests that he’s already been through hell”. He said it wasn’t clear whether that was part of the act, or a case of the stress he’s been under finally starting to show.
Mr Trump was already be using the mugshot to strengthen his position as mugs and T-shirts featuring his booking photo appeared on his presidential campaign site on Thursday, shortly after the photo taken at Atlanta’s Fulton County jail was released.
Dr Ruisch said the mugshot was an “excellent opportunity” for the 77-year-old as “it puts him back in the spotlight, and furthers the narrative that he’s being unjustly persecuted by his political opponents”.
Jail records, where he was described as inmate no. P01135809, listed the 13 charges the Republican frontrunner faces and gave his identifying details: white male, 6ft 3in in height, weighs 215 pounds (15st 4lbs), blond or strawberry hair, blue eyes.
On social media, some users speculated that the figure for Mr Trump’s weight was inaccurate.
The Washington Post noted that it was two stone less than his reported weight at his last physical as president in 2019, when he weighed 243lbs (17st 5lbs).
The Fulton County booking was Mr Trump’s fourth arrest in a criminal case since March, when he became the first former president in US history to be indicted.
Since then, he’s faced federal charges in Florida and Washington, and this month he was indicted in Atlanta with 18 others — including his ex-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani — under a racketeering statute normally associated with gang members and organised crime.
According to Dr Ruisch, the mugshot will “energise” supporters of Mr Trump and “increase the likelihood” of him being nominated to run for the Republican Party in next year’s election.
“Those who oppose Trump will continue to oppose him, while those who support him will continue to do so,” he said.
“It does put Trump squarely back in the spotlight, however, which will lead him to further overshadow the other already struggling Republican candidates, and will increase the likelihood that Trump will ultimately receive the party’s nomination.”