President Donald Trump called Attorney General Jeff Sessions an "idiot" to his face and said he should resign in May, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Sessions, an advocate for hardline policies on immigration and criminal justice, ultimately stayed on despite the humiliating Oval Office session with Trump, the Times reported, citing current and former administration officials as well as others briefed.
Trump berated Sessions, the Times said, during a May 17 meeting with his top advisers to consider replacements for former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump had fired earlier that month. During the meeting, White House counsel Don McGahn received a call from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, where he learned Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel for the investigation into potential coordination between Trump's associates and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The Times report said Trump lashed out in response to that news.
A source told CNN in June that Sessions offered to resign following a series of heated exchanges with the President. At the time, the White House declined to say Trump had confidence in Sessions. The Justice Department declined Thursday to comment on the Times' story.
The Times said Trump did not accept Sessions' resignation because he was advised it would create more problems for him, given he had already fired Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump has publicly blamed Sessions for the appointment of the special counsel. In July, the President went as far as saying he would not have chosen Sessions to be the attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse from matters related to the campaign. Trump called the move "very unfair to the President."
Trump continued to rebuke Sessions in public, including referring to the attorney general on Twitter as "beleaguered."