Impeachment chorus grows, Aretha Franklin's wills and groundbreaking grads: The Morning Rundown

34 black female cadets are graduating from West Point this year as part of the most diverse class ever at the military academy.
Image: The largest class of graduating African-American women will graduate from West Point in 2019.
"We defied the odds," said one of the African American women graduating from West Point this weekend. Hallie Pound / US Military Academy

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Newly discovered handwritten wills by Aretha Franklin, if authenticated, show the Queen of Soul was a fiercely devoted mother as well as a savvy businesswoman.

Here's what else we're watching today.

As impeachment talk intensifies, Pelosi holds the line

The impeachment chorus in the House is growing larger and louder — and it's no longer just the safe-district partisan liberals who think it's time for the Judiciary Committee to open a formal inquiry into President Donald Trump's conduct.

The failure of former White House Counsel Don McGahn to appear before the committee to testify under subpoena Tuesday — after the White House instructed him not to show up — added force to the impeachment push.

But the dam isn't breaking on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — yet, NBC News' Jonathan Allen writes in an analysis.

The president railed against the impeachment calls in an early morning tweetstorm. Without the Trump-related investigations, he claimed his approval rating "would be at 65%."

Meantime, House Democrats are plowing ahead with their investigations.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., issued subpoenas on Tuesday to former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, McGahn's former chief of staff.

'He knew': Ex-Ohio State students don't believe Rep. Jordan is vindicated in abuse scandal

Former Ohio State University students who say they were molested by Dr. Richard Strauss pushed back against a statement by GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, a former wrestling coach at the school, that he was exonerated by an independent investigation into the scandal.

“Jim Jordan was at Larkins Hall where they trained at, can’t speak to what he knew,” former student Ron McDaniel said at a press conference. “But he knew.”

Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing about the abuse and said the allegations against him were politically motivated.

'Sometimes you never see the sun'

Thousands of immigrants have been held in solitary confinement by Homeland Security officials during the Trump and Obama administrations, including detainees with physical and mental disabilities, according to a trove of documents reviewed by NBC News.

The newly obtained documents paint a disturbing portrait of a system where detainees are sometimes forced into extended periods of isolation for reasons that have nothing to do with violating any rules.

“You never know what day it is, what time it is,” said one transgender woman from Central America, who has struggled with mental illness. “Sometimes you never see the sun.”

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Aretha Franklin's handwritten wills, if real, shed light on a complicated life

Representatives of Aretha Franklin's estate and her family have asked a judge to tell them what to do with three handwritten wills found hidden in her home.

One of the wills, none of which have been authenticated, reveals a surprise father for one of the late singer's sons.

Aretha Franklin's wills, if they are real, reveal a mother who was intent on making sure her sons were treated fairly.Raymond Boyd / Getty Images file

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  • North Korea weighed in on the 2020 election, calling former Vice President Joe Biden "a fool of low IQ."

THINK about it

People are getting dumber. That's not a judgment; it's a global fact.

Evan Horowitz, director of research at a financial think tank, writes in an opinion piece that if IQ scores could mean fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnating economies and a general dimming of our collective future.


Are you concerned about your child's mental health? Here are 14 open-ended questions to ask and get a conversation going.

Quote of the day

"The law can survive the efforts of bad people to defy it. The law cannot survive the hesitation of good people to defend it."

Tom Malinowski, D- N.J. on the growing calls for impeachment among House Democrats

One fun thing

It's a photo that’s gone viral: 34 black female cadets standing on the stairs of West Point. They are part of the most diverse class in the military academy’s history.

Still, with more than 900 students in their year, the women made up less than 4 percent of their graduating class.

It wasn’t easy.

“I definitely struggled sometimes,” said Bria Erron. “Sometimes I'd be, like, the only woman of color or even woman in general” in a class.

They hope to set an example for the next generation.

“When you're a little girl they're like, ‘Oh, you wanna be a pretty princess,’” Tiffany Welch-Baker said.

“I want women to be soldiers. I want these little black girls to say, ‘Hey, I can do it too.’”

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

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Thanks, Petra Cahill