Brazil's Supreme Court reportedly authorizes probe into president

Posted May 19, 2017

Brazilian President Michel Temer on Thursday told lawmakers that his government would not be toppled by allegations.

If Temer resigns or is impeached, House of Representatives Speaker Rodrigo Maia will take over as acting President until the presidential election is called.

"I will not resign, I repeat, I will not resign".

Brazil's stock market, Bovespa, plunged more than 10% immediately after opening Thursday, wiping out almost all of its gains for the year.

Temer's combative reaction was followed shortly after by street demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital Brasilia demanding his resignation.

The Supreme Court usually takes more than a year to come up with its findings in such probes into wrongdoing by politicians, and Temer would likely survive to the end of the term.

The recording is of a conversation between the president and Chairman Joesley Batista of meat giant JBS, made by Mr Batista using a hidden device, O Globo says. Today, Minister Fachin himself deprived of his mandate as federal senator to the leader of Brazilian Social Democracy party (PSDB) and presidential candidate defeated in 2014, Aécio Neves.

It was the first appearance since the Globo newspaper published a report Wednesday night that Temer was recorded supporting payments to former Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha.

Since he became president past year following the controversial impeachment of Rousseff - who was removed from office accused of manipulating federal budgets, his government has been plagued by scandal and several ministers have been forced to resign. But the impact of their plea bargain and the 38 recorded minutes of the March 7 meeting at the president's residence are likely to reverberate for a long time to come.

"We need to see what the Supreme Court says and whether it accepts this tape as evidence", one presidential aide said. "So, I feel I have the right not to trust all this and to examine, in more detail, all these tapes, these recordings, before passing a definite judgement", Carlos Marun of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party said.

Cunha led the impeachment fight that removed Dilma Rousseff from the presidency a year ago and put Temer, then the vice president, into power.

As the scandal developed on Thursday, it was reported that the main party in Temer's governing coalition, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), meant to leave the base of government. Congress cancelled its sessions, including suspending work on legislation that Temer's administration hopes will pull Latin America's largest economy out of its worst recession in decades.

Dozens of leading lawmakers and a third of President Temer's cabinet are under investigation over billions in political kickbacks paid by Brazil's biggest construction companies in exchange for contracts at state-run oil producer Petrobras and other government enterprises.

Globo's report represents the latest in numerous scandals that have plagued Temer, whose approval ratings are hovering around 10 percent.

"Michel Temer is like that boyfriend who doesn't know it's over", one Twitter user said.