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Gordon Sondland (L); Kurt Volker. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee released on Tuesday transcripts of its closed-door interviews with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.

Driving the news: Sondland, a key figure in alleged efforts by President Trump and Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 presidential election, revised his Oct. 17 testimony on Nov. 4, according to the transcript. He stated that he told an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that military assistance would not be released until Zelensky issued a statement agreeing to investigate Burisma, a gas company with ties to Biden's son.

Key excerpts from Sondland
  • "[B]y the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement."
  • "Also I now do recall a conversation on September 1, 2019, in Warsaw with Mr. Yermak [an aide to Zelensky]. This brief pull-aside conversation followed the larger meeting involving Vice President Pence and President Zelensky, in which President Zelensky had raised the issue of the suspension of U.S. aid to Ukraine directly with Vice President Pence. After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks."
  • Asked about Giuliani's efforts to prompt Ukraine to investigate the Bidens or involve Ukraine directly or indirectly in Trump's re-election campaign, Sondland testified that he believed this would be "improper." Asked whether it would be illegal, he responded, "I'm not a lawyer, but I assume so."
Key excerpts from Volker
  • "I don't recall ever hearing that the President was interested in investigating Burisma. I became aware of the President being interested in investigations concerning Vice President Biden and his son on September 25th when the transcript of the phone call came out."
  • "The negative narrative about Ukraine which Mr. Giuliani was furthering was the problem. It was, in my view, impeding our ability to build the relationship the way we should be doing ... as I understood it."
  • "I think [Trump] said, not as an instruction but just as a comment, talk to Rudy, you know. He knows all of these things, and they've got some bad people around [Zelensky]. And that was the nature of it."
  • "I said to Rudy in that breakfast the first time we sat down to talk that it is simply not credible to me that Joe Biden would be influenced in his duties as Vice President by money or things for his son or anything like that. I've known him a long time, he's a person of integrity, and that's not credible."

The big picture: On Monday, House Intel released transcripts of interviews with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, a former aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Read the Sondland transcript.

Read the Volker transcript.

Go deeper ... Trump-Ukraine scandal: The key players, dates and documents

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.