NEW YORK — Jeffrey Lichtman, a New York criminal defense lawyer best known for successfully representing John Gotti, has agreed to represent Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera on drug trafficking charges if financial issues can be resolved.

Lichtman's office confirmed he is one of the lawyers Guzman wants to retain, but a letter filed in Brooklyn federal court by the federal public defenders currently handling the case says that no retainer can be finalized until prosecutors agree to not seek forfeiture of money that would be used for legal fees.

“Counsel are reluctant … to formally appear without government assurance that it will not seek to forfeit their legal fees,” federal defenders Michelle Gelernt and Michael Schneider said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan. “We understand that the requested assurance thus far has not been forthcoming.”

A spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde declined to comment on the dispute.

Gelernt and Schneider said they would ask Cogan at a hearing next week to set a deadline for the government to take a position on the forfeitability of funds that would be used for legal fees.

They also said they would ask permission for Lichtman and, according to the letter, a second lawyer who hasn't been identified to file “provisional notices of appearances” to litigate the issue of fees.

Guzman, 60, is accused of using murders, kidnappings and ruthless violence to run a billion-dollar cocaine trafficking enterprise as the head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. He twice escaped Mexican prisons and was extradited to the U.S. in January.



Donald Trump's childhood home listed on Airbnb

NEW YORK — The buyers of President Donald Trump's childhood home in Queens are renting out the five-bedroom home for short-term stays on the lodging website Airbnb.

Trump's former home in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood is available for $600 a night.

It features a “giant cut out of Donald in the Living Room … a great companion for watching Fox News late into the night,” according to a recent Airbnb post that indicates it has been “verified” by the website.

Mischa Hagani, the principal of Paramount Realty USA, which auctioned off Trump's childhood home for $2.14 million, to an unnamed buyer in March, confirmed the authenticity of the Airbnb post.

“The operator of the Airbnb listing is someone I know and they contacted me to tell me that this is what their plan is,” Hagani said in an interview.

The home, which has 3 { bathrooms, offers 17 beds for guests and an internet connection.



Zuma survives ouster bid to maintain grip on South African power

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South African President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence motion in parliament Tuesday, ensuring that he'll maintain his grip on power until at least the end of the year.

The motion was defeated by 198 votes to 177, Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly, announced at a sitting in Cape Town. Nine of the 384 lawmakers present in the assembly, where the ANC has a 62 percent majority, abstained.

The move could backfire on the ANC as it prepares to contest elections in 2019 with Zuma's public approval rating running at an all-time low. Opposition parties could point to the fact that the ANC had an ideal opportunity to remove Zuma and take a stand against corruption but didn't use it, according to Dirk Kotze, a politics professor at the University of South Africa.

“The failed motion of no confidence reinforces the status quo,” Kotze said by phone from Pretoria, the capital. “The current political crisis in the ANC will just deepen. It's a lose-lose situation for them at this point.”

The outcome of the vote weighed on the markets, with the rand slumping as much as 1 percent against the dollar after the vote outcome was announced.

Zuma's tenure has been marred by a succession of scandals and policy missteps that have weighed on investor confidence and sent the economy into recession. He's clung to power thanks to the support of most of the ANC's top leaders, many of whom rely on him for their cabinet posts and government jobs. He's due to step down as ANC leader in December and as president in 2019.

The opposition filed its latest motion of no-confidence in April after Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, a move that prompted two ratings companies to downgrade the nation's debt to junk and sparked massive public protests.

—Bloomberg News

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