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US arrests El Chapo’s wife, accusing her of helping her run the drug empire

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexico’s most notorious drug dealer, better known as El Chapo, was arrested on Monday and charged with helping her husband run his multibillion dollar criminal empire and d ‘plotting to get him out of prison after his capture in 2014.

Ms. Coronel, a former beauty queen, had been under investigation for at least two years by US federal authorities for complicity with her husband, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, convicted in 2019 during a trial in Brooklyn for orchestrating a huge drug plot. and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.

Court documents filed in Ms Coronel’s case say she relayed messages for Mr Guzmán that helped him carry out drug shipments from 2012 to 2014 and escape capture by legions of US authorities and Mexican women who had pursued him for years. During Mr Guzmán’s trial, evidence showed Ms Coronel was also one of the main conspirators in a sophisticated plot to get him out of the Altiplano prison in Mexico by digging a close tunnel a mile long in the shower of his cell.

Ms. Coronel, 31, is a dual Mexican-American citizen with roots in both Southern California and the city of Culiacán in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which has long served as the base of operations for Mr. Guzmán’s anti-drug organization, the Sinaloa cartel. She was taken into custody at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, and is scheduled to appear for the first time in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday. His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, who also represented Mr Guzmán, declined to comment on the arrest.

While it is unusual for law enforcement to prey on the wives of prominent drug figures, prosecutors in Mr. Guzmán’s trial have presented substantial evidence that Ms. Coronel, unlike other wives drug trafficker, was deeply involved in her husband’s criminal affairs.

They presented BlackBerry messages clearly stating that she had helped Mr. Guzmán run his operations – sometimes with his own father. Other posts indicated that she was intimately involved not only in Mr. Guzmán’s notorious tunnel escape from the Altiplano in 2015, but also in helping him escape capture by US and Mexican authorities after a raid. botched in 2012 in the Mexican resort of Cabo San Lucas.

During Mr Guzmán’s trial, his former chief of staff, Dámaso López Núñez, told the jury that Ms Coronel had sought to help her husband escape once again after his takeover in 2016 and his return to the Altiplano. According to Mr. López’s testimony, Ms. Coronel devised a plot to bribe the top Mexican prison official, but before the plan could be carried out, Mr. Guzmán was extradited to the United States for to be judged there.

Ms Coronel, who is Mr Guzmán’s third – if not fourth – wife and mother of two of his many children, grew up in the drug business. Documents filed by the court indicate that his father, Inés Coronel Barreras, who was detained in 2013 in Mexico, was one of Mr. Guzmán’s main lieutenants.

Prosecutors have filed charges against several members of Mr. Guzmán’s nuclear family. His two eldest sons, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, still at large in Mexico, have been charged in the United States for years. Two of his youngest sons, Joaquín Guzmán López and Ovidio Guzmán López, were indicted in Washington just days after their father’s conviction and also remain fugitives.

The FBI said Ms Coronel married Mr Guzmán around 2007. The marriage – in the rugged mountainous region of Culiacán – took place when Ms Coronel was 17 and Mr Guzmán was more than double his age.

In an interview with the New York Times during Mr Guzmán’s trial, Ms Coronel defended her husband, saying she did not recognize him as the drug lord prosecutors described him. “I admire him as the human being that I have met,” she says, “and the one that I married.”

She was a constant presence in the New York courtroom during the three-month trial, often showing up in the latest fashion trends. Fiercely loyal to her husband – despite her serial diligence – Ms Coronel orchestrated one of the trial’s most dramatic non-legal moments, sending a message to one of Mr Guzmán’s mistresses, Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López, who one day appeared as a witness.

After Ms Sánchez López proclaimed her love for Mr Guzmán from the podium, Ms Coronel arranged for her husband to arrive in court the next day with a burgundy velvet smoking jacket, identical to the one she was wearing. It was a sign that Ms Coronel was Mr Guzmán’s wife and that Ms Sánchez López, in her blue prison uniform, was just the other woman.

On Monday evening, it was not clear why federal authorities arrested Ms Coronel after implicating her in her husband’s crime more than two years ago.

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Trump’s lawyer on appeal is a conservative brand helping overturn election

As President Trump sought to overturn the election results, his personal lawyers appeared before TV hosts, state election officials and anyone else willing to accept their baseless allegations of electoral fraud.

But behind the scenes, a longtime conservative lawyer named Cleta Mitchell quietly helped. His work for Mr. Trump first gained widespread attention over the weekend, when a recording was released of an hour-long call in which Mr. Trump threatened election officials in Georgia of “a criminal offense” if they did not “find” enough votes to change the state’s presidential results.

During the call, Ms Mitchell repeatedly intervened to assist Mr Trump, showing a level of intimate involvement in his efforts as she made baseless statements about the election and urged Georgian officials to transmit electoral data.

Ms. Mitchell is a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner, which has more than 1,000 attorneys and an office in nearly every major city in the United States and represents large companies such as CVS Pharmacy. His presence on the call stood out because Mr. Trump struggled to attract high-profile lawyers to help him in his attempts to quash the election, relying instead on a group that included Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who made outlandish claims in defense of Mr. Trump throughout his presidency, and Sidney Powell, who espoused conspiracy theories.

Ms Mitchell has been advising the president for weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The day after the audio aired, Foley & Lardner sought to distance themselves from Ms Mitchell, saying in a statement on Monday that her lawyers should refrain from representing or advising anyone in the election. The firm said it was examining Ms Mitchell’s role within Mr Trump’s legal team.

“We are aware of and concerned about Ms. Mitchell’s participation in the Jan. 2 conference call and are working to better understand her involvement,” the firm said.

Ms. Mitchell did not return an email requesting comment.

Despite being affiliated with a well-established law firm, Ms Mitchell fits into the mold of many lawyers who advised Mr Trump during his presidency as he faced an investigation and indictment a special advocate and has now embarked on a specious effort to overturn the vote.

Ms Mitchell for years represented a range of conservatives such as Scott Pruitt, the former head of Mr. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, and organizations like the National Rifle Association. In recent years, she has represented conservative Tea Party groups who have accused the IRS of falsely targeting them.

During the Russia inquiry, Mitchell publicly attacked Special Advocate Robert S. Mueller III in the news media, asking why her team was not examining Hillary Clinton instead.

Ms Mitchell, 70, began her political career as a Democrat, winning the Oklahoma House of Representatives election in her mid-20s and serving for almost a decade before campaigning unsuccessfully for the post lieutenant governor in 1986.

She came to Washington as an activist calling for term limits and registered as a Republican in 1996. She has established herself as one of the party’s leading electoral and nonprofit advocates, representing her campaign arms in Congress and several of its candidates, as well as groups that support Republicans, including the NRA, where she also served on the council.

But unlike most mainstream political lawyers, Ms. Mitchell has maintained a public profile supporting candidates and causes, earning a reputation as a hitman. She was one of the main criticisms of the IRS’s treatment of nonprofit groups associated with the Tea Party movement during the Obama administration and of state and local coronavirus restrictions that religious groups opposed last year. .

During the Trump administration, Ms. Mitchell also represented the nonprofit organization of the president’s former chief strategist Stephen K. Banon, which was under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan as part of an extensive investigation to determine if Mr. Bannon defrauded donors.

At one point in the call over the weekend, Mr. Trump raised an unsubstantiated claim about the Atlanta ballots that were for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Does anyone know that?” Asked Mr. Trump.

I’m aware of it, but – ”Ms. Mitchell said before being interrupted by the President.

OK, Cleta, I’m not asking you. Cleta, honestly. I’m asking Brad the question, ”Trump said, referring to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Maggie Haberman contribution to reports. Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.

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Helping to shape the words of the president-elect: a presidential historian

WASHINGTON – Jon Meacham, the presidential historian and biographer best known for studying the lives of past presidents, has taken on a relatively unique role in a contemporary political moment: helping to draft speeches for the next president.

Mr Meacham helped craft many of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s rhetorical moments, according to multiple sources, including helping to draft the acceptance speech Mr Biden gave on Saturday night from Wilmington, Del., His first remarks as president-elect.

In this remarks, Mr. Biden spoke of a mission “to rebuild the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and to make America respected again in the world. entire ”and has been widely recognized for striking the right tone. to bring the country closer together. The language echoes the title of Mr. Meacham’s 2018 book, “America’s Soul: The Battle for Our Best Angels,” which has long served as a touchstone for Mr. Biden, who contacted Mr. Meacham in the past to discuss passages he liked.

“Saving history doesn’t mean you’re far from it,” Mr Meacham said over the summer, noting that he had been friends with Mr Biden for a long time.

Mr. Biden’s speech-writing process is led by Mike Donilon, his longtime advisor. But behind the scenes, Mr. Meacham played a bigger role than previously known, writing draft speeches and offering edits on others, including the one Mr. Biden gave in Gettysburg, Pa. , last month and his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.

“President-elect Joe Biden wrote the speech he gave to the American people on Saturday night, which outlined his vision to unite and heal the nation,” said TJ Ducklo, spokesperson for Mr. Biden.

“Given the importance of the speech, he consulted a number of important and diverse voices as part of his writing process, as he often does,” Ducklo added. A Biden official said Mr Meacham was involved in discussions about the themes of the victory speech.

Mr. Meacham, who voted for presidents of both parties and wrote a favorable biography of former President George HW Bush, played an unusual role during the 2020 campaign. He publicly endorsed Mr. Biden in a Washington editorial Post in March and received a top notch speech at the Democratic convention.

In that speech, he addressed the nation from his home in Nashville and warned that “our democracy is beset by an incumbent more interested in himself than the rest of us.” He called the choice voters faced in November “a choice that goes directly to the nature of the American soul.”

Mr. Meacham is not expected to join the administration. But his connection to Mr. Biden is reminiscent of historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s relationship with President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Schlesinger worked for Mr. Kennedy’s campaign and as a member of his White House staff, then chronicled his presidency.

Mr. Biden’s use of a historian contrasts with President Trump’s lack of interest in the past. Mr. Biden is known as someone who enjoys using historical analogies in his public speeches and his own thinking, and historians have said it makes sense that he would want someone like Mr. Meacham to be involved in the process. writing the speech.

“The fear of this kind of work is that you will be called a court historian and seen as a hyperpartisan,” said Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. “But if anyone can do it, Meacham can. He is loved by moderate Republicans. He’s a successful writer. He’s a word maker and that’s what Biden needs. He’s probably able to keep a foothold in both worlds.

Mr Brinkley added that Mr Meacham was uniquely placed to help Mr Biden incorporate “patriotic traditions” into his speeches.

Mr Meacham declined to comment on his role.

During the Trump years, Mr. Meacham had also been a regular feature on MSNBC and NBC News shows. But as of Monday, he was not a paid contributor to the network, according to two people familiar with the decision. Mr Meacham was due to return to NBC as an unpaid guest and could return to his paid role next year, possibly after the inauguration, people said. NBC declined to comment.

Indeed, Mr. Meacham appeared on MSNBC before and after Mr. Biden’s acceptance speech on Saturday. About half an hour after Mr. Biden’s conclusion, presenter Brian Williams introduced Mr. Meacham by saying, “I’m not the historian that you are, and I don’t have the Pulitzer that you do, but do you agree what are we used to hearing our presidents? “

“Absolutely,” Meacham replied, without revealing that he had participated in the writing of the speech.

Shortly before Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Mr Biden took the stage, Mr Meacham commented on the symbolism of a new administration featuring a 77-year-old institutionalist and a vice-president-elect “who represents in many ways changing demographics. from the country.”

“It’s poetic,” Meacham said. “There is a lot of poetry tonight.”