jeff sessions
pool
jeff sessions
Now playing
00:50
Sessions remarks on 'Anglo-American heritage'
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions looks on during a press conference regarding the arrest of bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc in Florida, at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC on October 26, 2018. - The suspect has been charged with five federal crimes in connection with more than a dozen suspicious packages sent in a US mail bombing spree, Sessions said. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions looks on during a press conference regarding the arrest of bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc in Florida, at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC on October 26, 2018. - The suspect has been charged with five federal crimes in connection with more than a dozen suspicious packages sent in a US mail bombing spree, Sessions said. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:18
Jeff Sessions out as attorney general
 US President Donald Trump applauds after addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Washington DC on June 08, 2017.
President Donald Trump avoided directly responding to explosive accusations made by his ex-FBI director Thursday, but sought to rally supporters behind a message of defiance. "We are going to fight and win" Trump said, addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in the capital.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) delivers remarks during the daily White House press briefing March 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions announced new actions against sanctuary cities that seek Justice Department grants during his surprise appearance. Also pictured is White House press secretary Sean Spicer
Getty Images
US President Donald Trump applauds after addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Washington DC on June 08, 2017. President Donald Trump avoided directly responding to explosive accusations made by his ex-FBI director Thursday, but sought to rally supporters behind a message of defiance. "We are going to fight and win" Trump said, addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in the capital. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) delivers remarks during the daily White House press briefing March 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions announced new actions against sanctuary cities that seek Justice Department grants during his surprise appearance. Also pictured is White House press secretary Sean Spicer
Now playing
02:36
How Trump and Sessions's relationship deteriorated
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions will travel to Boston, Massachusetts, on Monday, October 29, 2018 to give remarks to the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society on the Future of Religious Liberty.
CNN
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions will travel to Boston, Massachusetts, on Monday, October 29, 2018 to give remarks to the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society on the Future of Religious Liberty.
Now playing
01:46
Pastor to Sessions: Repent, help those in need
US President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on December 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia, before participating in the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on December 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia, before participating in the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony.
Now playing
02:13
Trump: I'm disappointed in Sessions
CNN
Now playing
01:55
Sessions warns about fake immigration claims
CNN
Now playing
00:48
Kellyanne Conway: Sessions doing a great job
CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
02:04
Trump's feud with Sessions escalates again
Fox News Channel
Now playing
01:19
Trump on Sessions: What kind of man is this?
President Donald Trump stands with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on December 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia, before participating in the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump stands with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on December 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia, before participating in the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony.
Now playing
00:59
Source: Trump pressured Sessions to reverse recusal
 US President Donald Trump applauds after addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Washington DC on June 08, 2017.
President Donald Trump avoided directly responding to explosive accusations made by his ex-FBI director Thursday, but sought to rally supporters behind a message of defiance. "We are going to fight and win" Trump said, addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in the capital.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) delivers remarks during the daily White House press briefing March 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions announced new actions against sanctuary cities that seek Justice Department grants during his surprise appearance. Also pictured is White House press secretary Sean Spicer
Getty Images
US President Donald Trump applauds after addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Washington DC on June 08, 2017. President Donald Trump avoided directly responding to explosive accusations made by his ex-FBI director Thursday, but sought to rally supporters behind a message of defiance. "We are going to fight and win" Trump said, addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in the capital. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) delivers remarks during the daily White House press briefing March 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions announced new actions against sanctuary cities that seek Justice Department grants during his surprise appearance. Also pictured is White House press secretary Sean Spicer
Now playing
01:57
Trump tweets he wishes he picked different AG
US President Donald Trump departs the White House July 31, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump departs the White House July 31, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:04
Trump: Sessions should end Russia probe now
jeff sessions
POOL
jeff sessions
Now playing
00:55
Sessions defends Trump on immigration policy
POOL
Now playing
02:12
Sessions rips schools for 'snowflake' culture
AG Sessions - Turning Point USA HS Leadership Summit Remarks  Attorney General Jeff Sessions will deliver remarks at Turning Point USA's High School Leadership Summit  OPEN PRESS (Camera Preset for K9 security sweep: 7:30 a.m. EDT // Final access time for print media without gear: 8:45 a.m. EDT)   NOTE:  All media must RSVP and present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver's license) as well as valid media credentials. (CNN has RSVP'd)
POOL
AG Sessions - Turning Point USA HS Leadership Summit Remarks Attorney General Jeff Sessions will deliver remarks at Turning Point USA's High School Leadership Summit OPEN PRESS (Camera Preset for K9 security sweep: 7:30 a.m. EDT // Final access time for print media without gear: 8:45 a.m. EDT) NOTE: All media must RSVP and present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver's license) as well as valid media credentials. (CNN has RSVP'd)
Now playing
01:36
Jeff Sessions repeats 'lock her up' chant
Fox News
Now playing
01:03
Sessions: Detention centers not like Nazi Germany
(CNN) —  

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday brought up sheriffs’ “Anglo-American heritage” during remarks to law enforcement officials in Washington.

“I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people’s protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process,” Sessions said in remarks at the National Sheriffs Association winter meeting, adding, “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”

“We must never erode this historic office,” Sessions continued.

Invoking “Anglo-American heritage” seems to have been an impromptu decision by the attorney general. A written version of the remarks says that Sessions was supposed to say: “The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage.”

Ian Prior, a spokesperson for the DOJ, said in a statement that the term “Anglo-American law” is common parlance among lawyers and legal scholars, pointing to a number of opinions from the US Supreme Court.

“As most law students learn in the first week of their first year, Anglo-American law – also known as the common law – is a shared legal heritage between England and America. The sheriff is unique to that shared legal heritage. Before reporters sloppily imply nefarious meaning behind the term, we would suggest that they read any number of the Supreme Court opinions that use the term. Or they could simply put ‘Anglo-American law’ into Google,” Prior said.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer used the term in a speech in 2016.

The concept of the office of sheriff – being an independent, elected law enforcement entity – originates in Anglo-Saxon England. The word “sheriff” combines the Anglo-Saxon words “shire,” meaning “county,” and “reeve,” meaning “guardian,” Cato analyst David Kopel notes in The Washington Post.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.