Michele Kelemen

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

Longtime U.S. diplomat William Taylor told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that President Trump orchestrated a parallel foreign policy for Ukraine that made U.S. aid to the country contingent on investigations to help himself politically.

In a written statement to three House committees tasked with Democrats' impeachment inquiry, Taylor said he "became increasingly concerned" as "irregular, informal channels" of policymaking diverged from official U.S. goals — led by Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

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On paper, Kurt Volker's job in the Trump administration was to support Ukraine and help end a war started by Russia in the east of the former Soviet Republic. Volker is now caught up in a political battle at home over President Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Volker will be deposed Thursday behind closed doors as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

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Kelly Craft is expected to take up her job as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. on Thursday. She's a Republican donor and is married to a billionaire coal executive. Craft is likely to take a much lower profile than her predecessor, Nikki Haley.

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This week an American graduate student from Princeton University marked his third anniversary in an Iranian prison. He's one of several Americans held there. His wife came to Washington to call on the Trump administration to do more to free him.

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All right. Let's put that same question - how will the U.S. respond? - to two of the many NPR reporters working this story today. Our diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen is with us. Hey, Michele.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Hi there, Mary Louise.

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The U.S. has been backing efforts to topple Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now tells CNN that there was a moment today when it seemed Maduro was ready to leave.

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The State Department this morning is threatening to punish its allies to get at iran - the United States is trying to get other countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

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When President Trump announced in December that he would pull troops out of Syria, he said the U.S. had defeated ISIS there. Today he says the U.S. has almost defeated ISIS.

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The United States will withdraw from a Cold War-era arms control treaty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says talks between the United States and Russia - the parties here have failed because Russia has not agreed to destroy some of its missiles.

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