As Brazil’s coup-imposed government takes heat over a series of shocking leaked recording laying bare the motives behind removing the President Dilma Rousseff from office, she told newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that unelected interim President Michel Temer isn’t the one who’s really calling the shots, but rather former lower house speaker and key leader of the impeachment bid Eduardo Cunha.
“They can say what they like: Eduardo Cunha is the central person of the Temer government,” Rousseff said in the interview published by Folha late on Saturday. “Cunha not only commands, he is the Temer government. And there is no government possible under Eduardo Cunha.”
Cunha, who faces massive corruption charges for receiving millions of dollars in bribes and hiding funds in Swiss bank accounts, spearheaded the impeachment bid against Rousseff.
He was suspended from his post for intimidating lawmakers and hampering investigations, but only after the impeachment process was given the green light by the lower house of Congress.
The former house speaker’s deep corruption has long been a hallmark of the hypocrisy of the impeachment attempt, which Rousseff’s opponents tried to paint as a bid to root out government fraud. The recent leaks have revealed that removing the president from office was more about protecting corruption than punishing it.
In the interview, Rousseff expressed hope her ability to still fight of the impeachment. “We can reverse this,” she said, arguing that some Senators voted in favor of suspending her from office without considering the merits of the alleged charges against her, which will come up in the trial she faces in the coming months. Many analysts have argued that the charge of manipulating budget accounts against Rousseff is not an impeachable offense.
A two-thirds majority vote is required in the Senate to lock in her permanent removal from office at the end of the trial period, overseen by the Supreme Court. In the first Senate ballot that voted to suspend her on May 12, two thirds of 80 lawmakers already voted against her in a 55 to 22 decision to move forward with the impeachment trial.
But Rousseff added that the “reasons for the impeachment are becoming clearer,” referring to the leaked recordings that dropped a bombshell on the political scene last week. The secret wiretaps revealed that interim Planning Minister Romero Juca, who is also the head of Temer’s PMDB party, and Senate chief Renan Calheiros plotted to oust Rousseff as a way to put a stop to the corruption investigations targeting them, known as Operation Car Wash.
“They show that the real reason for my impeachment was the attempted obstruction of Operation Car War by those who thought that without changing the government, the 'bloodshed' would continue,” Rousseff told Folha of the leaked recordings, making reference to a direct quote from Juca.
When Folha asked Rousseff if she thought that a government was possible under Temer, she responded by saying that “they’ll have to kneel” to Cunha.
Rousseff was suspended from office for 180 days on May 12 through a Senate vote to make her stand trial over allegations of budget manipulations. Interim President Michel Temer will be installed in Brazil’s highest office until 2018 if the impeachment is ultimately approved.