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Gordon Sondland. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A $1 million donor to Trump’s inauguration committee who later became the EU ambassador is now on record saying he told a Ukrainian official that the country wouldn't get military aid unless they caved to President Trump's demands.

Why it matters: President Trump keeps denying the existence of a quid pro quo.

The big picture: Gordon Sondland's additions to his House testimony are the "first admission by a senior figure who had direct contact with Mr. Trump that the military aid for Ukraine was being held hostage to the president’s demands for investigations into his political rivals," the NY Times reports.

  • "A wealthy Oregon hotelier who donated to the president’s campaign and was rewarded with the plum diplomatic post, Mr. Sondland can hardly be dismissed as a 'Never Trumper.'"
  • Sondland was a critic of the president during the campaign, publicly denouncing him in August 2016 over differences in values and Trump's attacks on Gold Star father Khizr Khan.

Sondland's testimony is the fourth transcript to be released this week:

The bottom line: The question isn't whether Senate Republicans believe there to have been a quid pro quo. It's whether they believe it's worthy of conviction.

  • “If it were today I don’t think there’s any question — it would not lead to a removal," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today.

Go deeper: Lindsey Graham says he won't read House deposition transcripts

Go deeper

Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bernie Madoff, a former investor sentenced to 150 years in prison for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, died Wednesday at age 82, AP reports.

The big picture: Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to a multibillion-dollar scheme that investigators said began in the 1970s and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries — including high-profile victims like Steven Spielberg, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and actor Kevin Bacon, according to CNBC.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - World

John Kerry and China's long road ahead on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brian Snyder/AFP via Getty Images

Yes, special climate envoy John Kerry's really in China and no, don't look for a huge breakthrough between the world's two largest carbon-emitting nations.

Driving the news: The State Department yesterday announced Kerry's visit this week, confirming plans that began emerging Saturday.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Coinbase president Emilie Choi on mainstreaming crypto

Coinbase plans to go public on Wednesday, in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Coinbase president and COO Emilie Choi about how she thinks about crypto, why Coinbase eschewed a traditional IPO and if we’re ever going to use bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee.