Attorney General Jeff Sessions seemed to get quite the kick out of high school students chanting, “Lock her up!” at a leadership conference in Washington, DC, on Tuesday. So much so that he decided to repeat the chant himself for a second.
The former US senator from Alabama was speaking at Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit on Tuesday about defending the Constitution and the rights it protects when a chant of “lock her up” broke out. The refrain became a familiar one during the 2016 presidential campaign as a call for then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to be jailed, and it’s continued to pop up at conservative events and rallies since the election.
Sessions laughed as the students began chanting, and at one point repeated the line himself. “Lock her up,” he said. “I heard that a long time on the last campaign.”
That Sessions, the United States’ top law enforcement officer, would so lightheartedly approach calls for the jailing of one of the president’s political opponents is disturbing, or at the very least, in bad taste.
His reaction garnered swift criticism on Twitter.
Every Republican voted for Jeff Sessions.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) July 24, 2018
Let me guess, Trump is ok with this political bias in the DOJ: https://t.co/vpA247goMF— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) July 24, 2018
While Attorney General Jeff Sessions chants “LOCK HER UP”— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) July 24, 2018
Benghazi investigation 4yrs- NO INDICTMENTS
Clinton email investigation 2yrs- NO INDICTMENTS
The full list of known indictments & plea deals in #MuellerProbe 35 https://t.co/VRHj1ng5S0
As the Washington Post points out, Sessions as the head of the Justice Department has resisted calls to investigate Clinton, including over her use of a private email server as secretary of state. He has rejected calls for a special counsel to probe Clinton.
Sessions also took a swipe at college student “snowflakes”
During the same speech on Tuesday, the 71-year-old Sessions criticized universities for “coddling” young people and said schools were silencing conservative voices to create a “generation of sanctimonious, sensitive, supercilious snowflakes,” adopting lines of critique many Republicans use to argue that college campuses are too accommodating, specifically, to liberal-leaning students and ideas.
“Well, I can tell this group isn’t going to have to have Play-Doh when you get attacked in college and you get involved in a debate,” Sessions said, per CNN. “I like this bunch, I gotta tell you. You’re not going to be backing down. Go get ’em. Go get ’em.”
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in a speech ahead of Sessions at the same event on Tuesday took a different approach.
She encouraged students to avoid online behavior meant to “own the libs,” meaning making comments or taking actions meant specifically to upset or anger liberal-leaning people. “I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading?” she asked, according to a report from the Hill. “We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership — it’s the exact opposite.”
She and Sessions may want to have a chat.