Senate Republicans and conservative activists came to the defense of Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, even as President Donald Trump continued to flirt with the idea of firing — or pushing out — the attorney general.

“He’s a man of purpose and integrity,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. “I tell you what, he’d be hard to replace; he’s got a lot of goodwill on Capitol Hill.”

Trump has gone after Sessions on Twitter since Saturday, calling him “beleaguered” and “weak.” Tuesday, he bashed his attorney general at an afternoon news conference, saying he was “very disappointed” with him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation that is bedeviling Trump’s young administration.

Conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin said it would be a “terrible mistake” for Trump to push Sessions out, noting he’s been “highly regarded” in conservative circles for 30 years.

“I understand [Trump’s] upset that Sessions recused himself, but he will not get a better attorney general than Jeff Sessions,” Levin said.

Already, Republicans are hearing names floated as alternatives to Sessions, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Cruz, who called reports of his consideration for the position “false,” said he would remain in the Senate.

“Jeff Sessions is a friend and a strong conservative,” Cruz said. “I was proud to vote to confirm Jeff and to vigorously defend his confirmation, and I’m deeply gratified that we have a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions serving as attorney general.”

McClatchy Washington Bureau