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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

Report: U.S. calls for UN-led Afghan peace talks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, D.C., in February. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed in a letter to President Ashraf Ghani steps including a UN-facilitated summit to revive stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Afghanistan's TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Blinken expresses concern in the letter, also obtained by Western news outlets, of a potential "spring offensive by the Taliban" and that the "security situation will worsen and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid.

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 4 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.