Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he should have brought up presumption of innocence earlier this week when he spoke to a group of conservative high schoolers chanting "Lock her up!" in reference to Hillary Clinton.
Sessions, the nation's top law enforcement officer, caught flak on Tuesday after he uttered the phrase during remarks promoting free speech and conservative principles at conservative group Turning Point USA's high school leadership summit in Washington.
"Lock her up," Sessions said, chuckling at the brief interruption from the audience as the chant then grew louder. "I heard that a long time over the last campaign."
Sessions, speaking at a press conference in Boston on Thursday, said that he should have advised the students to presume individuals are innocent until proven guilty.
"Well, I met with a group of enthusiastic high school students ... and they spontaneously broke into that chant. I perhaps should have taken a moment to advise them on the fact that, the things I mentioned today -- presumed innocent until cases are made," Sessions said, smiling throughout his answer. "It was a great event to be with those kids."
The "lock her up" chant 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.
Concluding an investigation into Clinton's email server, then-FBI James Comey recommended in 2016 that no charges be filed against Clinton, and the US Attorney General at the time, Loretta Lynch, decided not to pursue charges.
Trump has pestered Sessions for not looking into Clinton's deleted emails and publicly slammed him for being "very weak" on Clinton's "crimes." Sessions has assigned a federal prosecutor to look into various matters surrounding Clinton, but stopped short of formally appointing a special counsel earlier this year.
During his confirmation hearing last January, Sessions was asked if he ever uttered that chant during the campaign.
"No, I did not. I don't think. I heard it in rallies and so forth, sometimes I think humorously done," he replied.