John Kelly called Jeff Sessions to assure him job is safe, AP reports

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pictured speaking at the Columbus Police Academy.

White House chief of staff John Kelly called Attorney General Jeff Sessions and assured him that he will not be fired by President Trump despite receiving criticism in recent weeks, according to a report Wednesday.

Citing two people familiar with the conversation who did not want to be identified, The Associated Press reported that Kelly called Sessions on Saturday, stressing the White House remained "supportive" and wanted the former Republican U.S. senator to "continue his job."

Kelly, who was sworn in Monday to replace embattled White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, said Trump was still "annoyed" with Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Reuters reported. Citing an unnamed senior U.S. official, there had been a "kind of a thaw" in Trump's attitude against Sessions, according to Reuters.

Questions about Sessions’ tenure as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer have been roiling in public since July 19, when Trump told The New York Times that he would never have appointed the former Alabama senator had he known Sessions would disqualify himself from overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

More:Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Trump's criticism 'kind of hurtful'

Related:Trump's standoff with Attorney General Jeff Sessions shows no signs of thawing

Sessions’ recusal in March for failing to disclose election-year meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, followed by Trump's abrupt dismissal of FBI Director James Comey in May, prompted the appointment of Robert Mueller as the Justice Department’s special counsel to direct the wide-ranging inquiry.

In an interview with Fox News, Sessions — who Trump called "beleaguered'' and "weak" — said he "understands'' Trump's disappointment about his recusal, but said he was "confident I've made the right decision.''

The attorney general added that if Trump ultimately wants to remove him, "I would be glad to yield.''

Last week, former Senate colleagues stepped up to defend Sessions. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Sessions "one of the most decent people I've ever met in my political life."

Contributing: Kevin Johnson and David Jackson