(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an "embarrassment " and a "disgrace" for repeating and laughing at a chant of "lock her up," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said Tuesday.
Jeffries: Jeff Sessions is an 'embarrassment,' 'disgrace' for repeating 'lock her up' chant
The crowd at a conservative group's high school leadership summit began chanting the phrase "lock her up" during Sessions' speech Tuesday. Sessions repeated the words before chuckling during his talk about free speech and conservative principles.
The chant, a rallying cry from President Donald Trump's campaign events, calls for jailing Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in the 2016 race and Trump's opponent. It was a staple heard at Trump 2016 campaign rallies in reference to Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state and Trump's insistence that she be jailed for doing so.
"It's incredibly disturbing, and Jeff Sessions is an embarrassment, he's a disgrace," Jeffries, a New York Democrat, said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room. "He should be ashamed of himself, and he's not fit to continue to be the attorney general of the United States of America."
Jeffries went on to criticize Sessions and his audience for focusing on Clinton and the 2016 election rather than on Trump associates who have been under investigation in criminal probes.
"The notion that the top law enforcement officer in the nation would entertain that type of reckless rhetoric -- those folks need to get over the fact that the presidential race in 2016 is over," he said. "They should be more concerned about the illegal activity, the conspiracy, the collusion, the aberrant behavior that was taking place by Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn and Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and all of the other individuals who have either plead guilty, have been indicted, or continue to be under investigation."
Jeffries added the continued focus on Clinton is intended to cover up what he claimed are potentially historic crimes by Trump associates.
"This is a distraction that's designed to divert from the fact that there's a serious, ongoing criminal investigation that's taking place that could expose one of the most gravest conspiracies to take place between individuals and a foreign power ever to occur in the history of the Republic," Jeffries said.