It is time for Michel Temer to answers for his Crimes
- The Office of the Attorney General has formally asked to prosecute the president of Brazil for corruption.
- Congress shall decide whether to remove Temer from office.
Michel Temer has become the first president in Brazilian history to be formally charged with committing corruption crimes.
Not even the two presidents of the country who in the last 25 years underwent dismissal proceedings, Fernando Collor de Melo in 1992 and Dilma Rousseff in 2016, had gone through an equal situation.
The Attorney General of the Republic, Rodrigo Janot, has formally filed the complaint against the president, which will force the nation’s Congress to vote for Temer’s dismissal from office for six months.
The prosecution opened by Janot is not exactly an impeachment, but in practice puts Temer in a very similar situation.
The denunciation has to be voted by at least two-thirds of the Congress and its acceptance would leave the country without president on a temporary basis.
Temer is in a circumstance similar to that of Rousseff, of whom he was vice president and against which he maneuvered last year to overthrow her from office.
Although unlike his predecessor, he is more likely to get out of Congress alive, where a significant portion of parliamentarians – and the overwhelming majority of parties – are also beset by serious allegations of corruption.
Collor de Mello and Rousseff ended up dismissed but in their case they were political processes, not a court action with a formal complaint that accuse the president of committing a common crime: the collection of bribes.
It is not the only thing in which Temer has managed to get a worse image than the two mandates deposed by way of impeachment.
Neither Collor nor Rousseff had achieved such a poor popular support as the current president, barely 7%, according to a poll by the country’s largest polling firm, Datafolha. The results of the latest poll were published on Sunday.
At its worst, Rousseff had 13% approval, and her then vice-President Temer went so far as to proclaim publicly that someone with so little popular support could not stay in office.
A year and a half later, Temer has opted to entrench himself despite the ferocity of the storm. On Monday, when everyone expected Janot to make his complaint, Temer said in a ceremony at the presidential palace in Planalto that “nothing will destroy us, neither me nor our ministers.”
Eight of those ministers are also being investigated for corruption, and there is almost no day when there is no sultry news for the government, even with issues unheard of and mostly bizarre. The last, revealed Monday by the Air Force, is that a Helicopter intercepted with 500 kilos of cocaine had taken off from a farm of the family business of the minister of Agriculture, Blairo Maggi.
The complaint against the president is accompanied by devastating reports from the prosecutor and the federal police.
Janot accuses Temer of passive corruption because, based on the agreed confession of the owner of the meat conglomerate JBS, Joesley Batista, and in the later police checks, he concludes that the president agreed with the employer the collection of bribes in exchange of favors of the Government.
All that took place last March, when the country was astonished at another confession, that of the directors of the construction company Odebrecht, who detailed a gigantic network that had corrupted the majority of the country’s political class.
The main test for the prosecution is the case of the already famous “deputy of the suitcase,” Rodrigo Rocha Loures, special adviser to the president.
Temer had indicated to Batista that Rocha Loures would be his contact to negotiate benefits from the Government, as attested in conversation between both in the official residence of the agent. The conversation was recorded and later published.
Shortly after, the police filmed Temer’s adviser receiving bribes from a JBS executive. He collected a suitcase with 500,000 reaies, some 150,000 dollars.
In a desperate attempt to stop the investigation, the president tried to get Batista’s tape dismissed on the grounds that it had been tampered with. But the police investigation proved its veracity.
That recording will cause the prosecutor to file in the next few days at least another complaint against Temer for obstruction of justice.
From some parts of the conversation, the researchers deduce that the president could have approved Batista’s payments to buy the silence of a former political ally of Temer, the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, who is serving a prison sentence for corruption.
What is no doubt is that at another point in the dialogue the businessman tells the president his maneuvers to buy judges and prosecutors.
At the moment, Janot has already requested for the president a fine of 10,000 reales for “moral damages to the Brazilian people”.
The president seems ready now to take the battle to the terrain he knows best, the sinuosities of the half-light pacts that make up the messy Brazilian policy.
Fearing, plagued by years of conspiracies in the halls of Congress, he hopes to prevent two-thirds of parliamentarians from endorsing the complaint.
His best argument will be that the threat of judicial proceedings for corruption also hangs on dozens of them and that the most convenient outcome will be a general defensive maneuver to avoid being swept away from the political map, or worse, be sent directly to jail.