Brazil court opens session that could topple president

Erica Roy
June 8, 2017

His administration is being threatened by an electoral court trial starting on Tuesday over the alleged use of illicit money to fund former President Dilma Rousseff's 2014 election campaign. "Together!" referring to Brazil's President Michel Temer, outside a presidential office building in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Even if he survives the TSE, Temer still faces the intensifying corruption probe being led by Janot.

The center-right president, who faces a separate, potentially devastating corruption probe, says the election court will absolve him.

The investigation into construction fraud in a 2014 World Cup stadium in Brazil's northeastern city of Natal, the Arena das Dunas stadium, is one of several stadiums to come under investigation.

Late on Monday, police sent Temer a list of 84 questions related to the allegations.

The defense of former president, Dilma Rousseff, impeached past year for mismanagement of funds, denies any irregularity and maintains that the entire campaign funding was documented and monitored.

Both of the accused have called for the annulment of the trial due to lack of evidence.

Judge Herman Benjamin, who was named by the court to examine the case, began proceedings Tuesday evening with his analysis of the charges against the Rousseff-Temer campaign.

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They claim that each was responsible for their own collection of campaign donations and funds, denying that there were any fraudulent donations to the current president. The president's lawyer Gustavo Guedes reiterated his client's statement of innocence before the court, saying: "President Michel Temer did not carry out any illegal acts".

If the court, known by its TSE Portuguese initials, invalidates the 2014 election, lower house Speaker Rodrigo Maia would take over from Temer and Congress would have 30 days to pick a caretaker to lead the country until elections in 2018. Alves gave up the Cabinet post soon after Temer took power in May 2016. He has 24 hours to reply to the questions delivered Monday afternoon.

But Temer's standing has been dramatically weakened by the revelation last month of a secretly made audio recording in which Temer is allegedly heard approving payment of hush money from a meatpacking tycoon to a top politician jailed for corruption.

Cunha is already in prison serving a 15-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

Chief among those potential new witnesses is a former Temer aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was caught with a suitcase containing 500,000 reais ($152,000) of alleged bribe money.

If the testimonies are kept, Temer will be one step closer to being pushed out of office over allegations that the Rousseff-Temer ticket in 2014 was backed by illegal campaign contributions. Adding to that threat is the possibility that further suspects in the corruption scandal will strike plea bargains with prosecutors and testify against Mr Temer.

The Supreme Court authorised an investigation against him last month.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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