Attorney General Jeff Sessions chuckled and repeated "Lock her up" after the familiar Trump campaign rally chant rang out during his speech at a conservative conference for high school students on Tuesday.
The chant, President Donald Trump's pejorative mantra against political rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, occurred during the attorney general's appearance at Turning Point USA's High School Leadership Summit in Washington.
As Sessions commended attendees for fighting for conservative values, the crowd responded with cries of "Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!"
Sessions then laughingly repeated the line.
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"Lock her up," Sessions said once, chuckling. "I heard that a long time over the last campaign."
During his speech, Sessions decried what he sees as the silencing of young conservatives on college campuses to create a "generation of sanctimonious, sensitive, supercilious snowflakes." Sessions also praised the president, saying one of the things people liked about Trump was his willingness to stand up and express the views he thought were right.
Sessions was a campaign surrogate for Trump during the election before being tapped as attorney general, and often defended candidate Trump in the media.
During the campaign, Trump argued that any presidential candidate under federal investigation — which Clinton was for her handling of classified information stemming from her use of a private email serving while serving as secretary of state — was unfit to lead the country. He egged on chants of "lock her up!" at campaign rallies and told Clinton during the second presidential debate that if he became president, "you'd be in jail."
He also vowed that if elected, he would have his attorney general appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton further. (The FBI ultimately recommended no charges for Clinton.)
It is now known that Trump's campaign was also under federal scrutiny after the FBI learned that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had been approached by a Russian agent who said the Russians had dirt on Clinton. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, was ultimately appointed to lead the federal investigation into Moscow's interference in the 2016 election, which includes probing possible links to the president's campaign.
Multiple Trump campaign aides have since faced criminal charges, including Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
Trump campaign aide turned national security adviser Michael Flynn, who famously led "lock her up" chants during the 2016 Republican National Convention, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Muller's investigation.
Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, faces a host of charges stemming from his lobbying work in Ukraine, including conspiracy, money laundering, failure to disclose overseas bank accounts, tax evasion and bank fraud. The criminal charge arose from, but are not linked to, the Mueller probe and are unrelated to the campaign.
Rick Gates, a Manafort associate and a Trump deputy campaign chairman, pleaded guilt to conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to investigators. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his Virginia fraud trial is now set to begin July 31. (A separate trial in Washington is scheduled for September.)
His bail was revoked in mid-June after a federal judge determined that he had attempted to influence potential witnesses, and he remains locked up in pretrial detention.