Brazil's attorney general formally accuses Temer

BRAZIL-POLITICS  CARDOSO

In a fresh blow to the political stability in Brazil, which is going through its worst financial crisis, President Michel Temer has been charged over an alleged multi-million bribery scandal by the country's chief prosecutor.

Brazilian President Michel Temer waves after attending a ceremony at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, on Monday.

If the lower house of Congress votes by a two-thirds majority to accept the charge, the center-right president would be suspended for 180 days and face trial in the Supreme Court. However, Temer's approval rating is in the single digits.

In fact, the charges give Temer an incentive to hang on to office for as long as possible, said Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist at state University of Rio de Janeiro.

Temer has denied wrongdoing and said he refuses to resign despite numerous calls for him to do so and plunging popularity.

Even for Brazilians virtually inured to revelations of corruption among their politicians, the accusations against Temer were shocking, allegedly occurring just this year, three years into the largest corruption investigation the country's history, known as Operation Car Wash.

One third of his cabinet is under investigation and four former presidents plus dozens of politicians. Temer also said Brazil is on the road for an economic recovery and there is no "Plan B" for the austerity measures and reforms he proposes.

Executives at JBS, a Batista company, testified that Mr. Temer had negotiated millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations for his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

On May 17, a recording of Temer supposedly discussing the payment of hush money to the jailed Cunha emerged.

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But Janot's decision to separate the charges, filing them piecemeal, could drag out the crisis and weaken Temer's base, making congressional approval for a trial more likely.

Temer was expected to face further charges in the coming weeks, the BBC report added. That luck ran out when bribery charges were filed Monday.

On Monday, the federal police recommended charging Temer with obstruction of justice - the first step toward a new round of charges.

Brazil's Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot gestures during a seminar on combating corruption, in Brasilia on June 19.

Allies of Temer have been torn between whether to continue supporting the beleaguered leader or bail on him because of fears that association could be toxic during elections next year. "Lawmakers are unwilling to jump the Temer government's ship when there is no clear ship to jump to". 'In that case, there will be defections, and colleagues may start to move against Temer.

"I know what I did", Temer said following the release of the tapes.

Temer swept to power partly thanks to a surge in support from Brazil's burgeoning evangelical population.

The leftist leader was finally dismissed on August 31 and the conservative Temer took full office to see out the mandate to late 2018, launching austerity reforms to fix the stricken economy. A person found guilty over corruption charges may be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

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