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President Trump on Oct. 3 in The Villages, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland drafted a statement in August committing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigating the Ukrainian energy company for which Hunter Biden previously served on the board, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The statement, which also included a commitment to investigate Ukraine's alleged role in interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, appears to be documentary evidence of high-level diplomats shaping foreign policy to the tune of President Trump's political agenda, per the Times.

  • Volker and Sondland believed that the statement would help "pacify" Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who were fixated on unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Ukraine, and "normalize relations between the two countries" as the new president assumed office.
  • Giuliani and a top aide to Zelensky were reportedly aware of the statement's drafting, but it's unclear if it was ever delivered to Ukraine.
Volker's testimony

In a closed-door deposition Thursday before House committees investigating Trump and Ukraine, Volker testified that the Ukrainian government had "a lot of questions" about why Trump had frozen military aid to Ukraine, and that he "did not have a good explanation," per CNN.

  • Volker disclosed September text messages from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, to Volker and Sondland: "I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor said, after stating that "the message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us."
    • After reportedly speaking with Trump, "Sondland texted back that there was no quid pro quo, adding, 'I suggest we stop the back and forth by text,'" the NYT reports.
  • Volker testified that "he urged Ukraine's leadership not to interfere in US politics," CNN reports. He also said he warned Giuliani that he "was receiving untrustworthy information from Ukrainian political figures about former vice president Joe Biden and his son," the Washington Post reports.
  • It is not clear if the statement drafted for Zelensky came up during Volker's testimony.

The big picture: Volker and Sondland are both named in the whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry into Trump. The revelations that have been reported out of Volker's testimony, which lasted more than 9 hours and is the first of at least 5 depositions of current and former State Department officials, suggest there is much more to be learned.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.