Brazil’s president charged with corruption

Posted on June 28, 2017

BRASÍLIA -- Brazil’s top prosecutor charged President Michel Temer with bribery on Monday, plunging Latin America’s biggest country into what could be prolonged new political turmoil.

The bribery charge filed by Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot swept Mr. Temer into the forefront of a giant graft scandal that has engulfed Latin America’s biggest country over the last three years.

Although several past Brazilian presidents and scores of other politicians are currently being investigated for corruption in the “Car Wash” probe, Mr. Temer is the first leader in the country’s history to face criminal charges while still in office.

Mr. Temer acted “in violation of his duties to the state and to society,” Mr. Janot wrote, citing “abundant” proof that the president received bribe money.

For Mr. Temer to go on trial, the lower house of Congress must first approve Mr. Janot’s charge by a two-thirds majority. Mr. Temer would then be suspended for six months for the trial.

Mr. Janot is also probing Mr. Temer for alleged obstruction of justice and membership of a criminal group. He could file those charges at a later date, guaranteeing a sustained legal assault.

However, Mr. Temer’s aides say they are confident he has sufficient support in Congress to get the charges thrown out.

In his first comments since returning from a trip to Russia and Norway, the president was defiant.

“There is no plan B,” he said at a ceremony to sign a new bill in the capital Brasilia. “Nothing will destroy us -- not me and not our ministers.”

The Eurasia Group risk consultancy said there was a 70% chance of Mr. Temer lasting to the end of his term through 2018.

“Temer still enjoys enough support in congress (at least one-third, or 172 votes) to defend himself against the charges,” Eurasia Group’s analysis said.

“For most lawmakers, while there are now fewer incentives to openly support the Temer government, there are even fewer incentives to remove Temer from his seat.” -- AFP