August 21, 2018 3:31 pm

Donald Trump is worried about falling into a ‘perjury trap’ — here’s what that means

WATCH ABOVE: Trump is worried a sit-down interview with Mueller could be a 'perjury trap'


U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he fears special counsel Robert Mueller could be trying to set him in a “perjury trap.”

The president made the statement during an interview with Reuters, saying he’s worried anything he says under oath in a possible sit-down with Mueller could be used against him.

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READ MORE: Trump is worried a sit-down interview with Mueller could be a ‘perjury trap’

He said investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI director James Comey.

“So if I say something and he [Comey] says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”

WATCH: Donald Trump ramps up attacks on ‘discredited’ Mueller probe after NYT report

What is a perjury trap?

Perjury, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission.”

Toronto-based lawyer Jordon Donich broke down what exactly a “perjury trap” means: “It’s a scenario where a prosecutor calls a witness for the primary purpose of obtaining testimony in order to later prosecute that same witness for perjury, rather than, for example, legitimate investigative reasons.”

“Why it’s a trap is because you’re essentially calling a witness in order to prove they’re a liar,” Donich added.

READ MORE: Donald Trump ramps up attacks on ‘discredited’ Mueller probe after NYT report

What if Trump falls into a perjury trap?

The concept of “perjury trap” is one the president likely learned from his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani expressed similar concerns during an interview with CNBC News over the weekend, saying: “I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury.”

READ MORE: Rudy Giuliani wary of Trump being interviewed by Mueller because, ‘truth isn’t truth’

Donich explained that perjury traps aren’t as simple as the witness telling an obvious lie, as they involve skilled investigators.

“The person is not going to say, ‘The car was blue,’ then say, ‘The car was red,'” he said. “It’s not going to be that black and white.”

“The concern is that there could be a scenario where something is construed to be a lie,” the lawyer explained.

A perjury trap can be used as a form of defence in cases of perjury accusations, Donich added.

But if Trump does testify and is accused of perjury, his lawyer may not have much luck using the defence.

WATCH: ‘Truth isn’t truth,’ says Trump lawyer Rudy Guiliani

According to the United States Department of Justice, it’s a defence tactic that rarely works.

“The perjury trap is a form of entrapment defense, and thus must be affirmatively proven by the defendant,” the department’s website reads. “The defense is rarely proven, even though the claim is relatively common when grand jury testimony gives rise to perjury charges.”

In this case, Donich explained Giuliani is “one step ahead” and is using the perjury trap defence even before anything has occurred.

“The lawyer is saying, ‘I know what you’re up to. We’re not going to let you do that.'”

READ MORE: Trump says White House lawyer McGahn is no ‘RAT’

Recent attacks against Mueller

Meanwhile, Trump has ramped up his criticism of Mueller, accusing his team of “enjoying ruining people’s lives,” and “looking to impact the election.”

“Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel [sic], only with my approval, for purposes of transparency,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday.

WATCH: Trump says Russia ‘very unhappy’ that he won election, slams Russia investigation once more

Trump’s tweets followed a New York Times report that the White House general counsel, Don McGahn, has been co-operating extensively with the special counsel team investigating Russian election meddling and potential collusion with Trump’s Republican campaign.

Over the weekend, Trump insisted his general counsel isn’t a “RAT” like former president Richard Nixon’s and accused Mueller’s team of “looking for trouble.” He contrasted McGahn with John Dean, the White House counsel for Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

Dean ultimately co-operated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency in 1974, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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