Sessions has been talking privately with two Trump political lieutenants, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark. At Sessions’ request, the two took the temperature of the White House to see how the president would respond. White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was also involved in back-channel conversations with the Sessions team.

Sessions has tapped two Republican strategists, Curt Anderson and Timmy Teepell, to oversee his campaign, according to two people familiar with the choice. As he deliberated over whether to enter the contest — discussions that intensified after Labor Day — Sessions reviewed polling that he had conducted. Among the questions he was forced to ponder was how a Trump assault would affect his prospective candidacy.

Sessions has spoken to several of his colleagues in the months leading up to his decision, several of whom encouraged him to run and others who were pointed in their advice on what he would face during the grueling campaign.