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Attorney General Jeff Sessions says attacks on journalists are an "unacceptable trend"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters Tuesday attacks on journalists are an "unacceptable trend," saying the world has not "reacted sufficiently" to the killings of journalists in countries such as Mexico. Sessions also responded to the disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, whose disappearance inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October is being investigated. Turkish officials have said he was killed inside the consulate, and CBS News has confirmed the Saudis are expected to claim he was accidentally killed by Saudi operatives.

Sessions said Khashoggi's disappearance was given a "serious evaluation," but to comment more would be "inappropriate at this time." He said he had not been able to speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since Pompeo went to Saudi Arabia to discuss Khashoggi with King Salman.

Discussing the freedom of the press internationally, Sessions said the killing of journalists was a "big deal." He mentioned the high murder rates of reporters in Mexico. In 2018, at least 9 journalists have been killed in Mexico, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"The world will be diminished if journalists aren't able to go and travel and to report honestly conditions in differing countries, pr people in their own country can't report on corruption or crime or misconduct in their countries. So I think it can even separate countries from a civilized community," Sessions said.

Sessions said he feels "strongly" about journalists' rights internationally, and "the president feels strongly about it."

"We at the Department of Justice will do what we can, and I think maybe give new attention to this issue," he said.

Sessions also told CBS News' Paula Reid he was "pleased and honored" to serve under the president, even as Mr. Trump has expressed disappointment in his attorney general.

"The president speaks his mind. He says what's on his mind at the time, and he's been frustrated about my recusal and other matters," he said.

  • Grace Segers

    Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.