9 Jeff Sessions Quotes About Russia That Show A Remarkable Transformation

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in hot water following revelations that he met twice with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 presidential campaign. As a result, he agreed Thursday to recuse himself from any investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The episode has put a spotlight on the fact that Sessions' feelings about Russia have shifted significantly over time, as the many of Sessions' quotes about Russia demonstrate.

In his confirmation hearing to serve as Attorney General, Sessions stated that he "did not have communications with the Russians" during the campaign, but The Washington Post reported later that met twice with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S., after joining Donald Trump's campaign in 2016. Sessions later said that what he meant in his Senate testimony was that he didn't meet speak with the Russians in his capacity as a Trump supporter, and that he was meeting with Kislyak in his capacity as a U.S. senator.

One notable thing about all of this is that for most of his career as a senator, Sessions has been extremely critical of Russia. But shortly after endorsing Trump in February 2016, Sessions softened his position, and has since struck a much more conciliatory tone towards America's former Cold War rival. Sessions' transformation from hawk to dove on Russia has been fascinating to watch. Let's take a look at some of his choicest quotes about Russia.

They're Not Reliable

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We as a nation are going to have to face up to the fact that the Russians are not reliable. They may not be reliable as a partner in space; they certainly are not reliable in helping to contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Senate floor, February 8, 2008

I Am Worried

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I thought Russia was about wanting to move forward into the world and be a good citizen in the world community. I haven't seen it. I am worried about it.

Senate floor, December 21, 2010

Make 'Em Feel The Pain

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After Russia annexed Crimea, Sessions said:

I believe a systematic effort should be undertaken so that Russia feels pain for this. ... Any sanctions are never fun. They're always difficult. They hurt us as well as Russia. But we've got to find some things that are painful for Russia and impose those.

Eggs and Issues Breakfast, as quoted by the Montgomery Advisor, March 2014

A High Price To Pay...

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In an interview, Sessions said the following regarding Russian military activity abroad:

It needs to be clear that Russia knows that there will be a high price to pay if this behavior continues. ... If the Minsk Agreement [the Ukrainian peace deal] fails, I would hope that Europe and the United States would have to unify and push back more firmly against Russian overreach.

RealClearWorld interview, March 26, 2015

...Or Maybe Not

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I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the U.S. and Russia to be at this loggerheads. ... Somehow, someway, we ought to be able to break that logjam.

American Council for Capital Formation event, March 17, 2016

Why Can't We Be Friends?

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We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility [between the U.S. and Russia] that's putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities.

CNN interview, July 31, 2016

No Communications With The Russians...

I did not have communications with the Russians.

Senate hearing, Jan 10, 2016

...Well, Not About The Campaign

I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.

Statement, March 2, 2016

Actually I Did Meet With A Russian

ABC News on YouTube
And in retrospect, I should have slowed down and said, "But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador."

Press conference, March 2, 2016