Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he doesn't accept as accurate press reports that say the Trump administration is pressuring Time Warner to sell off the parent company of CNN as part of a condition of its proposed merger with AT&T.
"I would say that I don't accept and cannot accept the accuracy of that news report," Sessions said in the House Judiciary Committee when asked.
Later on, however, when asked if his department had any contact with the White House about the idea of forcing a sale of CNN, Sessions said he could not comment.
"I'm not able to comment on conversations or communications the Department of Justice's top people have with top people at the White House," he said.
The Financial Times reported that the Justice Department told the two companies that Turner Broadcasting must be sold if AT&T and Time Warner are to merge. Turner Broadcasting owns CNN.
Many in the press speculated that President Trump himself was behind that demand. Trump has berated CNN countless times during the campaign and from the White House.
But the Justice Department said last week that it was not behind the idea, and that AT&T proposed the sale of CNN's parent company.
That official said the Justice Department's Antitrust Division "flatly rejected" that idea.
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., asked Sessions twice if Trump or anyone from the White House or Trump's campaign staff approached the Justice Department on this issue.
But Sessions indicated that hadn't happened, and said the department staff is "professional."
"I don't think... I'm able to accept as accurate news reports that have come out on that," Sessions added when asked if the initial report was true.