Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus twice convinced President Trump to keep Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the administration, according to excerpts for his upcoming book.
Sessions offered his resignation to the president in May 2017 after the president reportedly called him an “idiot” and belittled him to his face in an Oval Office meeting when he rescued himself from the Russia investigation.
Upon hearing this, Priebus said “that can’t happen” and ran out to the West Wing parking lot where he found Sessions already in his car, and he convinced him to take back his decision and come back inside, according to a new report from Vanity Fair, citing a new addition to the Chris Whipple book "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency," set to be released in paperback on March 6.
Despite the push to convince him to stay, Sessions still sent his formal resignation to Trump later that day, but Priebus convinced the president to dismiss the resignation and make amends with the attorney general.
As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation heated up in June, Trump ordered Priebus to get Sessions to resign “flat out” as he grew increasingly frustrated and he openly called the attorney general “weak” on Twitter.
“The president told him, ‘Don’t give me any bullshit. Don’t try to slow me down like you always do. Get the resignation of Jeff Sessions,’” a White House insider told Vanity Fair.
Similar to the near-resignation, Priebus had to talk Trump out of this decision, telling him it would make FBI Director James Comey’s firing look like a “picnic” and set off an avalanche of high-profile resignations.
A month later, Sessions indicated he planned on staying put, and has remained Trump's attorney general ever since. "We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate," he told reporters in July.