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‘El Chapo’ says he will not testify in his own defense

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Accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said in court on Monday that he will not testify in his own defense at his U.S. trial.

Guzman announced his decision after prosecutors rested their case against him in federal court in Brooklyn. After excusing the jury, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan asked Guzman directly whether he understood it was his decision, not that of his lawyers, to testify or not.

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“Yes, but they counseled me about it and I agree with them,” Guzman answered.

Had Guzman, 61, testified, it would have provided a fitting climax to an already dramatic trial. However, Guzman’s decision was widely expected, as testifying would have exposed him to cross-examination by prosecutors.

Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017 to face charges that he trafficked massive quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs into the United States as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Prosecutors have put more than 50 witnesses on the stand since the trial began in November, many of them former Guzman associates who have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Their testimony has offered an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Mexican drug trade.

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Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman’s lawyers, said in his opening argument in November that his client was framed by the cartel’s true leader, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, with the help of corrupt government officials.
Lichtman said on Monday he planned to call two U.S. law enforcement agents, whom he did not name, as defense witnesses on Tuesday morning. Lichtman had said in a court filing on Saturday that he wanted to call the agents to rebut testimony by two of the prosecution’s witnesses about their earlier statements to law enforcement.

Judge Cogan said prosecutors should expect to begin their closing argument on Wednesday morning.

The trial has also featured accusations of corruption against Mexican government officials, the most explosive of which was that former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took a $100 million bribe from Guzman. A spokesman for Pena Nieto has denied the allegation.

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Alejandro Edda, the Mexican actor who plays Guzman in the Netflix television drama “Narcos,” made a surprise appearance in the courtroom gallery Monday. Guzman grinned broadly at Edda after his lawyers told him who he was.

Edda later told reporters outside the courthouse that the smile “shook” him.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Anthony Lin and Jonathan Oatis

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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George Conway fears Trump is ‘psychologically decompensating before our very eyes’

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President Donald Trump spent Friday morning melting down on Twitter as he watches bad economic news pour in, and conservative attorney George Conway worries he's suffering a mental breakdown.

Economists have been sounding alarms about a possible recession ahead of the 2020 election, and Trump has been alternately insisting things are fine while also trying to lay blame for a downturn at the feet of his political enemies.

Trump snapped at his own Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, who has resisted pressure by the president to lower interest rates, and attacked Chinese leader Xi Jinping over a new round of tariffs in an escalating trade war.

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Fox’s Chris Wallace stunned as ‘flailing’ Trump tries to order around US companies while the stock market plunges

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Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace seemed stunned by a series of angry tweets from Donald Trump on Friday morning, first attacking Fed Chair Jerome Powell for not lowering interest rates than exploding at China over a new round of tariffs.

Speaking with host Sandra Smith, Wallace sat and listened as she read off the president's Twitter complaints about economic events beyond his control, including one telling U.S. companies to take their manufacturing business elsewhere.

"We are just all learning of this at the same time, but the best I can tell, the American president can’t order U.S. companies how they’re going to do their sales and where they’re going to have their supply chains," Wallace lectured. "We have a free-market capitalist system."

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‘They sense weakness’: Former senator says the world is ‘smirking’ as Trump flails away at latest China tariffs

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Former Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) appeared on CNN Friday to discuss how President Donald Trump has completely mishandled his long-running trade war with China.

While talking about trade with CNN's Jim Sciutto, Baucus said that China timed its new announcements of tariffs against $75 billion worth of American goods specifically to humiliate the president.

"They sense weakness," explained Baucus, who has also previously served as an American ambassador to China. "And I think that they see a weakness in the United States today. Trump has been weakened because of the weakened American economy and they're retaliating against the tariffs that Trump imposed after there was a truce there would be no tariffs."

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