What's up with the timing of this El Chapo extradition?

To follow on John’s post, is it pure coincidence that he’s en route to the U.S. the night before Trump is sworn in or something more?

The Times makes it sounds like pure coincidence. A court ruled, his appeal was denied, the extradition wheels started to turn. Simple as that.

A federal court in Mexico denied an appeal by Mr. Guzman’s lawyers to block the extradition, clearing the way for his transfer to American authorities in New York, where he faces numerous charges for his role as the chieftain of the Sinaloa cartel.

Those wheels turned awfully quickly, though. AFP noted a few hours ago that although Mexico’s Supreme Court declined to hear Guzman’s extradition appeal, Guzman’s defense team was considering taking the case to a regional human-rights court after that. Suddenly he’s on a plane to New York. Huh. A U.S. official told CNN that “Mexican authorities had planned to turn Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel, over before Friday’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.” Why the urgency to turn him over before Trump took office instead of, say, Monday? Were they worried about another prison break if they delayed or was it political?

The way it’ll be spun by Trump’s team, of course, is as an analogue to the Iran hostages coming home on the eve of Reagan’s inauguration. Whether it’s true or not that the hostages were released due to fear of how a Reagan-led America would react if they weren’t, that perception was politically useful for the new White House. Same goes for Trump vis-a-vis his frenemies in Mexico, who, he complains, keep taking jobs from the U.S. and sending illegals in return. Trump will frame the extradition as a goodwill gesture by Mexico and proof that “toughness” is already drawing concessions. It seems just as likely, though, that Mexico was racing to get Guzman extradited before January 20th precisely because they didn’t want it to happen on Trump’s watch. They wanted it done with Obama still in office so that it would appear less like a concession by the government to a new president whom many Mexicans aren’t fans of. Makes me wonder if it wasn’t communicated to the court somehow that a ruling today instead of next week would be very much appreciated.

If you want to add an extra layer of light conspiracizing here, you might wonder if Team Obama was also applying pressure to get Chapo extradited today — not only to deny Trump the credit of bringing him to the U.S. but as a useful distraction for other news that may be yet to come tonight. Foreign Policy magazine reports that Obama’s administration is working hard to the bitter end to free detainees left in Gitmo who aren’t high-value terrorists:

With less than 24-hours remaining before President-elect Trump becomes president, Foreign Policy has learned that the White House has made four more transfers, the last of Obama’s administration. The Pentagon announced their names and destinations — one to Saudi Arabia, and three to the United Arab Emirates — later on Thursday evening…

Of the 41 men who remain as of Thursday, only 10 have been charged with war crimes. The vast majority have been detained for more than a decade, and none were captured by the U.S. military.

If the rest do not make it onto a military plane by Friday, lawyers say, they will likely die at Guantánamo along with the 26 other men known as “forever prisoners” — including the alleged plotters of the 9/11 attacks — the U.S. has determined will be detained indefinitely.

If they somehow swing the release of even more detainees overnight, it’ll be useful to Obama and his apologists to be able to point to El Chapo to counter the accusation that he’s letting dangerous people go. He’s locking them up too, they’ll say.

Anyway, now that he’s here, what to do with him? There’s got to be a way to work America’s newest prisoner into the inauguration festivities. Perhaps he’ll be made to fight a lion for the amusement of the new king during tomorrow’s post-oath luncheon. Or maybe Trump will trot him out in chains at the end of his speech, pull a dollar out of Chapo’s pocket, and say, “That’s for the wall.” Approval rating: 85 percent.