While it's true that Sessions seems to be referring to the "legal heritage" we share with England, it's also true that Sessions has a long history of dog-whistling, one that extends at least as far back as 1985, when he prosecuted African American activists for "voter fraud", a case he said he'd pursue again if he had to, according to the New York Times.
"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", he said at the organization's winter conference.
Some eyebrows were raised when Sessions made the remark to the National Sheriffs' Association, but a Justice Department spokesman said the term had no "nefarious meaning", report the Washington Post and NBC.
"The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement ..."
Critics have suggested that Session's use of "Anglo-American" implies that law enforcement is inherently the purview of individuals of white European Christian descent - a perception helped along by the speech's primary focus on the merits of removing so-called "illegal immigrants" to curb violent crime.
He continued: "We must never erode this historic office". "Just as I am committed to defending law enforcement who use deadly force while lawfully engaged in their work, I will also hold any officer responsible breaking the law".
The sheriff indeed originated in medieval England, and the name derives from Anglo-Saxon words for the guardian, or reeve, of a county or shire. "I think you all agree ... lottery where you pick it out and you say good, we have a new American citizen".
Sessions was later denied that federal judgeship over allegations of making racist comments when he referred to Thomas Figures, a black assistant USA attorney who worked for him, as "boy".
Sessions was once denied a federal judgeship in his native Alabama over allegations that he had referred to a black co-worker as "boy".
DOJ defended Sessions's comments, pointing to the shared legal heritage between America and England. That the phrase "Anglo-American" would spring to the fore of Sessions's mind before the simpler phrase "common law" would is no surprise, but it's worth mentioning all the same.
At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee past year, Sessions vowed to enforce hate crimes laws and attempted to remake himself as a civil rights champion. In 2016, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer used the term "Anglo-American" during a speech in China with no apparent controversy.