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Latest Charge Against Brazil’s President: Bribing Legislators to Avoid Impeachment

Brazilian National Congress - Photo: Embratur

Brazilian President Michel Temer is facing accusations that he bribed lawmakers to assure their support ahead of his possible trial for corruption, a decision which is currently in the hands of the Lower House of Congress.

Lawmakers from the leftist Worker’s Party, or PT, will deliver the formal accusation to the Attorney General’s office soon.

Paulo Pimenta, Wadih Damous and Paulo Teixeira allege the appointed president used his position and power to secure support against the corruption charges presented by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot to the Supreme Court, which is now being evaluated by the Lower House.

This week Temer received at least 30 lawmakers in the Planalto Palace in Brasília according to the official agenda. Among them were 11 members of the Constitution and Justice Commission of the Lower House, who will decide if the charges against the president will proceed or not, according to Brasil 247

Temer’s lawyer Antonio Claudio Mariz de Oliveira is expected to present part of his defense to the commission. For the accusation to be admitted it needs to have the vote of 34 of the 66 members of the commission.

After this, it will have up to five sessions to debate and vote on the final report by the commission speaker, Sergio Zveiter, who also belongs to Temer’s ruling PMDB party.

The report will then be submitted to the Lower House for a vote, that needs the approval of 341 of the 513 lawmakers to be accepted.

Temer and his aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures are accused of receiving and approving bribes in the largest corruption investigation in the country known as Operation Car Wash.

Defense

Brazil’s embattled President Michel Temer has quickly presented to lawmakers his legal defense against corruption allegations in a bid to avoid being suspended from office and tried on alleged corruption charges.

Temer’s lawyer Antonio Claudio Mariz de Oliveira handed over the written arguments to a congressional committee, the first stage of his attempt to block a criminal trial at the Supreme Court.

Mariz told reporters the president has never been involved in anything illegal and the bribe-taking charge against him filed by the nation’s top prosecutor is a “work of fiction,” echoing his client’s statement last week.

The defense was submitted on the second day of the committee proceedings to consider the matter — eight days ahead of the deadline.

Allies of the president want a quick vote on the issue in the hope of putting an end to the political uncertainty.

Temer’s opponents favor a more drawn-out process, allowing extra time for any more potentially damaging allegations to emerge.

Temer and his aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures are accused of receiving and approving bribes in the largest corruption investigation in the country known as Operation Car Wash.

Under Brazilian law, two-thirds of the lower house of Congress must vote to approve any criminal charge against a sitting president, who could then only be tried by the Supreme Court. Temer has expressed the hope that the move will not pass Congress.

Last week, Brazilian Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot said he would likely level new charges of racketeering and obstruction of justice against Temer in the coming weeks.

Each charge would require lawmakers to vote on whether or not to defend the president from being tried.

Temer’s presidency has been bogged down in a string of graft scandals since he took over from his predecessor Dilma Rousseff in a controversial impeachment process.

He is due to travel to the G-20 summit in Germany on Thursday.

The next-in-line to the presidency, house speaker Rodrigo Maia, will go to Argentina on a congressional visit.

Eunicio Oliveira, the head of the Senate, will stand in as president for the next few days.

Labor Reforms

Brazil’s Senate is set to analyze an urgent request to vote on the controversial labor reform put forward by Michel Temer. If approved, the reform bill, known as PLC 38/2017, will be scheduled for a vote after two regular Senate sessions.

Carta Capital reports that Eunicio Oliveira, president of the Senate, intends to have the vote on labor reform by July 18. “I’m not anxious to have a vote today, on Monday or Tuesday. I will follow regulations and respect the opposition,” he said.

Labor reforms proposed by Brazilian President Michel Temer include the elimination of payment for workers’ commute from their contracts, a reduction in employer compensation for abuse and allowing employers to reduce workers’ salaries while increasing their work hours.

Social Security reform continues to circulate in Brazil’s Congress despite its unpopularity. It would scrap the average retirement age of 54, making it mandatory that women retire at 62 and men at 65.

Temer has made labor and pension reforms flagship proposals of his government. However, embroiled in a series of corruption scandals, his administration has faced stiff, widespread resistance. A recent DataFolha poll shows that just 7 percent of those questioned approved of Temer’s administration, while 71 percent of Brazilians reject the labor proposal.

Also, last Friday, a second general strike brought Brazil to a virtual standstill this year.

Meanwhile, Romero Jucá, a senator and key government ally, commented that he believes that labor reform will receive enough votes. “We’re modernizing legislation. We’re not taking away a single right. Those who claim that they’re losing rights are lying,” he said.

Jucá stressed that government wants to move forward alongside businessmen, workers, and government to have a “realistic legislation in order to guarantee future employability.”

Also, on Tuesday, the Worker’s Party revealed that Temer’s administration, in a vain attempt to garner public support for pension reform, spent some US$ 18 million dollars on publicity. The information was obtained through Brazil’s Information Access Law.

teleSUR

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