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Former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker told the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees on Thursday that he was unaware of any Trump administration push to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to his opening remarks as obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The big picture: The committees also released explosive texts provided by Volker last night, which included messages featuring Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giulani, and Andrey Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Volker's 5 big points:

  1. "[M]y efforts were entirely focused on advancing U.S. foreign policy goals with respect to Ukraine."
  2. "I became concerned that a negative narrative about Ukraine, fueled by assertions made by Ukraine’s departing Prosecutor General, was reaching the President of the United States, and impeding our ability to support the new Ukrainian government as robustly as I believed we should."
  3. "[A]t no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden."
  4. "[W]hile executing my duties, I kept my colleagues at the State Department and National Security Council informed, and also briefed Congress, about my actions."
  5. "I strongly supported the provision of U.S. security assistance, including lethal defensive weapons, to Ukraine throughout my tenure."

Read his opening remarks in full:

Go deeper: House committees release texts from former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker

Go deeper

100+ corporate executives consider freezing donations over laws curbing voting access

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

More than 100 corporate executives and leaders gathered on a zoom call Saturday to discuss ways to combat controversial voting bills that would restrict voting access that are being considered across the country, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: American corporations flexed their advocacy muscles earlier this month when more than 100 companies signaled their opposition to Georgia's new voting law, inciting the wrath of GOP leaders, including former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

6 hours ago - World

Defense Sec. Austin stresses U.S. commitment to Israel's security amid growing Iran tensions

Issei Kato/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

Why it matters: Austin met his counterpart Benny Gantz and will meet later with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran and regional security issues.

"I was horrified": Leaders respond to footage of Black and Latino Army officer threatened at traffic stop

An Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after he said they drew their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December.

Why it matters: Footage of the incident has drawn widespread criticism from leaders and groups in the state. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out," to which a police officer responds “Yeah, you should be," in a video from a body-worn camera.