Charges Up Pressure on Brazil President06/27 06:11
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- In a scathing 64-page indictment, Brazil's top
prosecutor described a scheming, arrogant and corrupt President Michel Temer
who lined his pockets with illegal money while showing little regard for the
office he represented.
Whether Attorney General Rodrigo Janot's formal accusation late Monday
pressures Temer to consider resigning --- he has insisted he won't and denied
any wrongdoing --- could depend on the reaction of lawmakers and the markets in
Latin America's largest nation in the days and weeks ahead.
When Janot opened the investigation last month, the markets tanked and
Brazil's real currency fell sharply against the U.S. dollar. Lawmakers,
particularly members of Temer's coalition, then spent several weeks
soul-searching about whether to stick with the president or bail on him because
of fears that association could be toxic for election chances next year. Now
they have much more to consider.
"There will be a tug-of-war between the executive branch and society for
support in Congress," said Fabiano Angelico, a Sao Paulo-based consultant,
adding that ultimately lawmakers "want to get re-elected."
The corruption accusation against Temer for allegedly taking bribes gives
him the dubious distinction of being the first sitting president in Latin
America's largest nation to face criminal charges. It's the latest salvo in an
intensifying showdown between Temer and justice officials who are building a
corruption case that reaches to the highest levels.
The office of the presidency said it would not have comment Monday night.
The case now goes to the lower Chamber of Deputies in Congress, which must
decide whether it has merit. If two-thirds of the legislature decides that it
does, then the president will be suspended for up to 180 days while a trial is
conducted. House Speaker Rodrigo Maia, an ally of Temer, would be president in
In his decision, Janot said that at some point between March and April of
this year Temer took a bribe of around $150,000 offered by Joesly Batista,
former chairman of meat-packing giant JBS.
Janot's investigation into Temer was looking into corruption, obstruction of
justice and being part of a criminal organization. A recording emerged that
apparently captured Temer, in a late-night conversation with Batista earlier
this year, endorsing hush money to former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a former
Temer ally who is serving a 15-year sentence for corruption. Batista reached a
plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
Janot's decision to put forward only the corruption charge may be a strategy
to force the Chamber of Deputies to first deal with it before having to
consider the other allegations.
The accusation comes with a blistering assessment of Temer and his actions
as Brazil's top leader. Janot said bribes to Temer could have reached about $12
million over nine months, and that Temer showed a total disregard for the
"The circumstances of this meeting (with Batista) - at night and without any
register in the official schedule of the president of the Republic - reveal the
intent of not leaving traces of the criminal actions already taken," wrote
Janot said the "spurious scheme" had been going on for a few years and Temer
had "middlemen to receive bribes."
He wrote that Temer should pay $3 million in damages.
Earlier Monday, Temer sought to show that his government was conducting
business as usual, defiantly saying he wasn't going anywhere in his first
comments since returning from a trip to Russia and Norway last week.
"Nothing will destroy us. Not me and not our ministers," he said during the
ceremonial signing of a bill in the capital of Brasilia.
Despite the optimism, Temer is facing risks to his mandate on several
fronts, from tanking popularity to numerous calls, including from heavyweight
politicians, for him to step down.
His trip last week to Russia and Norway ended up underscoring the
president's problems and Brazil's diminished stature overseas.
Few people showed up at the reception at Brazil's embassy in Moscow, no top
Norwegian officials welcomed Temer at Oslo's airport and the country's prime
minister, Erna Solberg, gave Temer a public lecture about the colossal "Car
Wash" investigation that has upended Brazilian politics and could even jail
Temer and several of his Cabinet ministers.
Launched in March 2014, the investigation into billions of dollars in
inflated construction contracts and kickbacks to politicians has landed dozens
of the country's elite in jail.
Temer, who took over in May of last year after President Dilma Rousseff was
impeached and later removed from office, has the lowest approval rating of a
president since 1989.
The Datafolha polling institute showed over the weekend that just 7 percent
of those questioned approved of Temer's administration, the worst since the
country was embroiled in a crisis of hyper-inflation on the watch of President
Even stalwart allies have begun to abandon Temer.
Former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who initially supported Temer
and is a key leader of the junior coalition party, said in an article published
by daily Folha de S.Paulo on Monday that the president could end the crisis by
ushering in new elections sooner than the end of his mandate, which goes
"I plead with the president to meditate over the opportunity of such a
gesture of greatness," said Cardoso.
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