June 5, 2024

Former President Donald Trump falsely said in a Fox News interview that he never said, “Lock her up” in his attacks on Hillary Clinton.

Trump gave an interview to Fox News days after a Manhattan jury convicted him of 34 counts of falsifying business records. He will be sentenced July 11 and could face imprisonment.

“You famously said regarding Hillary Clinton, ‘Lock her up,’” said “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Will Cain in a clip that aired June 2. “You declined to do that as president.”

Trump replied, “I beat her. It’s easier when you win, and they all said, ‘Lock her up.’ And I felt I could have done it, but I felt it would have been a terrible thing.” He added “Hillary Clinton, I didn’t say, ‘Lock her up,’ but the people would all say, ‘Lock her up. Lock her up.’”

But Trump said after he won he shifted his attitude toward Clinton. “I said, pretty openly. I say all right, come on. Just relax. Let’s go. We got to make our country great.”

Trump is incorrect that he never said, “Lock her up.” On the campaign trail in 2016, he sometimes said “Lock her up” — a frequent chant of his 2016 rallygoers. In other instances, he made other statements in favor of her going to jail.

The “Lock her up” chant related to Clinton’s use of a private email address for exchanges with her State Department staff while she was secretary of state.

The FBI investigated but Clinton was never charged. The FBI said in findings that classified information had been improperly transmitted, but carelessness, not an intent to skirt the law, was the cause.

We emailed the Trump campaign citing some examples we found of his comments and got no reply.

Trump said ‘Lock her up’ or said Clinton should go to jail several times

Here are examples of when Trump said, “Lock her up” or expressed support for sending Hillary Clinton to jail. We put the key phrases in bold.

  • “I will say this, Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, OK? She has to go to jail. … She is guilty as hell.” — June 2016 speech in San Jose, California.
  • “I think she should be in jail for what she did with her emails.” — June 2016 rally in Redding, California,
  • Clinton said that “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” Trump replied: “Because you’d be in jail.” — October 2016 debate.
  • “She deleted the emails. She has to go to jail.” — October 2016 rally in Lakeland, Florida.
  • After Trump mentioned “Crooked Hillary,” the crowd chanted repeatedly, “Lock her up!” Trump replied: “For what she’s done, they should lock her up, she’s disgraceful.” — October 2016 rally in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • “Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election.” — October 2016 tweet.

Days before the 2016 election, Trump floated the possibility of Clinton serving in office while facing charges. “If she were to win this election, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. In that situation, we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt.”

Trump broke his promise to investigate Hillary Clinton

Trump campaigned on a promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, but he broke that promise. The closest thing to an investigation of Clinton’s emails was released publicly in October 2019, but it was actually a probe that began before Trump was elected president. A three-year investigation by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security found that there was no widespread mishandling of classified information.

Despite encouraging the “Lock her up” chants, Trump hinted in the weeks following his 2016 win that he would let the whole thing go.

“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Trump told The New York Times in November 2016. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious.”

In 2020, Trump reprised the theme of locking up Clinton.

  • “Crooked Hillary, wait, Crooked … you should lock her up, I’ll tell you.” — January 2020 Toledo, Ohio, rally
  • When the crowd chanted, “Lock her up” Trump said, “I agree.” — September 2020 Pennsylvania rally
  • Video of Trump speaking multiple times shows that he is ridiculously rewriting the past. “Lock her up” was a familiar rallying cry during Trump’s 2016 campaign, and resurfaced in 2020. Yes many of the chants came from his supporters, but he sometimes chimed in as well.

Our ruling

Trump said with respect to Hillary Clinton, “I didn’t say, ‘Lock her up.”

Video of Trump speaking multiple times shows that he is ridiculously rewriting the past. “Lock her up” was a familiar rallying cry during Trump’s 2016 campaign, and resurfaced in 2020. Yes many of the chants came from his supporters, but he sometimes chimed in as well.

Trump made comments such as “for what she’s done, they should lock her up.” In other speeches, Trump said that Clinton has to or should “go to jail.”

We rate this Pants on Fire!

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. See the sources for this fact check here.

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Amy Sherman is a staff writer with PolitiFact based in South Florida. She was part of the team that launched PolitiFact Florida in 2010 and…
Amy Sherman

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