Sessions: I should have reminded students 'you're presumed innocent' during 'lock her up' chant

Sessions: I should have reminded students 'you're presumed innocent' during 'lock her up' chant
© Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Trump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report MORE on Thursday tried to walk back his decision to repeat a “lock her up” chant during a speech earlier this week, saying he should have reminded attendees that individuals are “presumed innocent."

Sessions was asked during a press conference if he had any response to the backlash he’s received for laughing along as a group of high school students broke into a “lock her up” chant during his speech at a conservative group's event on Tuesday.

Trump supporters frequently chanted "lock her up" during the 2016 presidential race in a call for Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Sekulow vows Bidens, Ukraine will be part of Trump impeachment defense Elizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary MORE to be jailed. Supporters have continued to break out the chant whenever the president mentions Clinton during campaign rallies since he's taken office.

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“I met with a group of enthusiastic high school students, and they spontaneously broke into that chant,” Sessions said. “I perhaps should have taken a moment to advise them of the fact that … you’re presumed innocent until cases are made.

“It was a great event to be with those kids, and that would be my answer to you on that,” he added.

Sessions delivered a speech on Tuesday to Turning Point USA's High School Leadership Summit in which he lamented the spread of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” on college campuses around the country.

Sessions praised the crowd after offering examples of schools that have offered therapy dogs and coloring books to help students cope with stress.

“I like this bunch,” Sessions said. “You’re not going to be backing down. Go get 'em.”

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A few calls of “lock her up” then coalesced into a room-wide chant, prompting chuckles from Sessions.

“Lock her up,” he repeated into the microphone. "I heard that a long time over the last campaign."

Some Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that the nation's top law enforcement officer had repeated the chant.

The president has repeatedly questioned why the Justice Department is not investigating Clinton over her use of a personal server to host communications during part of her tenure as secretary of State.

A faction of conservative lawmakers has pressed Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Clinton. He has thus far declined to do so.