CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Thursday said perjury traps are an "invented phenomenon to explain lying," knocking down Rudy Giuliani's repeated insistence that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE is trying to corner President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE into perjuring himself.
"When I was a prosecutor and now that I’ve been a journalist, I’ve never even understood the phrase 'perjury trap,'" Toobin said on CNN. "That is an invented phenomenon to explain lying."
"It’s not a perjury trap if you tell the truth," he continued. "The idea that there is something unfair about asking questions that you may be proved to be lying about — what is that? That is just ... an invented political, not legal, talking point."
Giuliani, a member of Trump's legal team, has for several days claimed Mueller is setting up a "perjury trap" for the president. The former New York City mayor told The Hill on Tuesday that Mueller might be inclined to believe former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE over Trump, though he could not back up this claim.
Comey has said the president asked him to back off Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
"The answer as to when he asked Comey to go easy [on Flynn] — the answer is he did not,” Giuliani insisted. “Now, if they have Comey saying that he did, the only reason they want [Trump] to say he did not, under oath, is to try to trap him into a perjury prosecution.”
Trump's legal team is reportedly nearing the end of discussions over giving Mueller an interview, but Toobin said negotiations might break down again.
"It does seem like the president’s team has made the conditions more and more onerous and I really think what’s being set up here is — Rudy Giuliani and company setting up Mueller to be blamed when negotiations break down," Toobin said. "The real issue here seems to be how it’s all resolved when it turns out there’s going to be no interview."
"Remember, if there is no interview, Mueller could subpoena the president and then this whole fight would move into the courts and that could last for months," Toobin said, adding he does not believe the special counsel would want this outcome.
Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.