×
February 4, 2019

The trial of notorious drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, a.k.a. El Chapo, is finally nearing its end.

Jury deliberations began Monday afternoon in the federal trial that has lasted nearly three months and included hundreds of hours of testimony, The Associated Press and CNN report. Guzmán, who is accused of operating a conspiracy to illegally import narcotics into the U.S. as head of the infamous Sinaloa cartel, has been charged on 10 counts, The New York Times reports.

Oral arguments began on Nov. 13. The trial ultimately included 56 witnesses and testimony describing "unspeakable tortures and ghastly murders," CNN writes. A number of stunning details have emerged, and one expert told CNN the most damning piece of evidence was "wire intercepts in which [Guzmán is] negotiating sources of supply," with the jury being able to hear his voice on the tape for themselves. In another eye-popping moment, Guzmán's former right-hand man testified that the alleged kingpin once paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Court papers also include allegations of Guzmán raping 13 year old girls; this was not shared with the jury, although two jurors told the judge Monday they had learned of the reports, AP writes. Guzmán, who previously escaped custody two times, has pleaded not guilty, and during his trial, his defense sought to downplay the testimony of witnesses who "lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs and kill people." He faces life in prison. Brendan Morrow

3:24 a.m.

Roman Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy, but infamously, not all priests keep that vow. And whether it's through a consensual affair or rape, priests sometimes father children. "Now, the Vatican has confirmed, apparently for the first time, that its department overseeing the world's priests has general guidelines for what to do when clerics break celibacy vows and father children," The New York Times reports.

"I can confirm that these guidelines exist," Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told the Times. "It is an internal document," created in 2017 based on a decade's worth of procedures, he added, and its "fundamental principle" is the "protection of the child." Gisotti said the document "requests" that the father leave the priesthood to "assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child." Canon lawyers tell the Times there's nothing in church law requiring a priest who fathers a child to step down. Msgr. Andrea Ripa, under secretary in the Congregation for the Clergy, told the Times that while "it is impossible" to do more than ask such priests to resign, "if you don't ask, you will be dismissed."

There are more than 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide but no reliable estimate for the number of children of priests, though the website for one support group, Coping International, has 50,000 registered users in 175 countries, according to the group's founder, Vincent Doyle. Doyle, an Irish psychotherapist who was 28 when he learned the priest he believed to be his godfather was actually his biological father, will meet with senior prelates in Rome this week when the world's bishops gather to discuss the Catholic child sex abuse scandal. He doesn't think all priests who father children should be laicized or fired.

Still, the "children of the ordained," as the church apparently calls them, are "the next scandal," Doyle told the Times. "There are kids everywhere." Read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber

1:56 a.m.

It's been a soggy February in California.

Since the first of the month, storms have dumped 18 trillion gallons of water in the state, the National Weather Service said. That's the equivalent of 27 million Olympic-sized pools, or 45 percent the total volume of Lake Tahoe. "If you weighed all the water, it would come out to 150 trillion pounds of water," KGO-TV meteorologist Mike Nicco said. "That's a lot of weight."

The snowpack in the Sierras is at 141 percent of its seasonal average and above its April 1 benchmark, the Los Angeles Times reports, and that will provide water for farmers once it begins to melt. All of this rain hasn't been enough to get California out of its drought, though; the United States Drought Monitor reports that a large portion of Southern California is still considered abnormally dry, and there are some small areas in the extreme north and south of the state experiencing moderate to severe drought. Catherine Garcia

1:52 a.m.

President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border on Friday, and after "a strange and incoherent appearance" in the Rose Garden, it was clear "the true emergency was taking place in his skull," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. He ran through some of the random topics Trump discussed, adding: "I only made a couple of those up, and you don't know which ones." Still, all Trump had to do was say he had no choice but to build his wall by executive fiat, and he even failed at that.

There are already several lawsuits challenging the declaration, but Trump "has a plan, and it goes a little something like this," Colbert said. "A little singsong, don't you think?" he asked after playing the clip. "I can't tell if he was answering a question or reading his Torah portion." "He's nailing that B-flat," Jon Batiste threw in from the piano, and Colbert spun a fantasy about Trump's presidency ending, in B-flat.

At The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was also surprised "Trump admitted he didn't need to declare an emergency, he's just doing it to save time," and he also found it amusing that Trump "wrote a song about" the legal challenges. "It sounds like he's being autotuned," or perhaps "trying to play his own speech on 'Guitar Hero,'" Noah said, inspired by "Cardi D's jam": "What if, the whole time, the key to making Trump a smarter president is just to teach him in song form?" He tried that out with sectarian violence in Yemen.

Late Night's Seth Meyers thought Trump's "singsong ramble" was more "like a 5-year-old telling you what he saw at the zoo," but he agreed that Trump saying he "didn't need to do this" declaration shows it's "the exact opposite of an emergency." That wasn't the only clue, as Trump flew straight from the Rose Garden to Mar-a-Lago for a weekend of golf and ... brunch? "There's no clearer sign that this is not a real emergency than the fact that he is at an omelette bar," Meyers said. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:27 a.m.

Kazi Mannan remembers what it was like when he arrived in the United States 23 years ago, with $5 to his name.

An immigrant from Pakistan, Mannan told WJLA that in those early days, he never had enough money to eat inside a restaurant. Years later, when he opened his own restaurant, Sakina Halal Grill, in Washington, D.C., he decided that everyone would be able to eat his delicious Pakistani and Indian food, whether or not they could pay.

Since opening in 2013, Mannan has made it his mission to feed people who are hungry and homeless. Some come in and eat twice a day at the restaurant, and the staff has their orders memorized. Mannan estimates that in 2018, the restaurant served at least 16,000 free meals. "I don't want any donation, but if you're coming in to eat, that's your support of helping a community restaurant that is offering kindness and love others," he told WJLA. "I'm trying to worship our Creator through food." Catherine Garcia

12:18 a.m.

Maybe they meant to type "(Crickets)"?

The White House has posted online the remarks made by Vice President Mike Pence last Friday at the Munich Security Conference, but there's a glaring error. In the beginning of his address, Pence said it was his "great honor" to speak "on behalf of a champion of freedom and a champion of a strong national defense, the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump." In the transcript, it says this was followed by "(Applause)." In reality, it was followed by (Silence).

As video from the event shows, Pence expected to be met with some sort of a reaction, as he paused, awkwardly, before moving on. The White House hasn't said why it inserted this fabrication, or why they didn't go with something more exciting, like (Audience starts chanting, "USA! USA! USA!" while twirling star-spangled rally towels) or (German Chancellor Angela Merkel dons a MAGA cap, initiates The Wave). Catherine Garcia

February 18, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said Monday night that a 45-year-old Mexican national had died in Border Patrol custody earlier in the day, after being apprehended by police in Roma, Texas, on Feb. 2. The cause of death remains unknown, CBP spokesman Andrew Meehan said, and the man's name is being withheld. The Department of Homeland Security instituted new health protocols and guidelines for reporting the deaths of immigrants in its custody after two children from Guatemala, ages 8 and 7, died in Border Patrol custody in New Mexico in December.

The immigrant requested medical attention after being arrested for crossing illegally into the U.S., "was cleared" by officials at the Mission Regional Medical Center, then handed over to Border Patrol, CBP said. The next day, he requested medical attention again and was taken to the McAllen Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure, CBP said. He died in the hospital Monday morning. Peter Weber

February 18, 2019

Roger Stone may have been ordered to keep quiet by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., but he's not staying silent on Instagram, posting a picture on Monday of the judge next to a crosshairs symbol.

Stone, a longtime Republican operative and adviser to President Trump, wrote in the caption that Special Counsel Robert Mueller used "legal trickery" to ensure that his criminal trial for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction went before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Stone, who has been hustling to raise money online to cover his legal bills, tagged his defense fund, and added the hashtag #fixisin.

When contacted by BuzzFeed News, Stone said he posted a "random photo taken from the internet," and "any inference that this was meant to somehow threaten the judge or disrespect court is categorically false." He later deleted the image and filed a notice of apology with the court, saying the photograph and comment were "improper" and he "recognizes the impropriety and had it removed." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads