Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The evidence against Lula is starting to mount up. This week Antonio Palocci, Lula’s all powerful first term Finance Minister, was arrested and charged with crimes connected to bribes made by Odebrecht, the largest beneficiary of Lula’s gallivanting around the world, and the largest illegal contributor to the PT slush fund.
Two days later, the STF agreed that the case presented by the public prosecutors against Senator Gleisi Hoffman and her husband Paulo Bernardo was sufficient to justify putting them on trial for corruption as part of the Lava Jato investigation. Gleisi was Dilma’s Chief of Staff, succeeding Antonio Palocci, who resigned after being charged with corruption.
The principal function of the Chief of Staff is to keep the President informed of what is happening, where it’s happening, and who is involved. A secondary function is to deny that the President ever knew anything at all. If Presidents are Commanders-in-Chief, their Chiefs of Staff have become Defenders-in-Chief.
The Curmudgeon is reminded of the Watergate scandal, which led to President Nixon’s resignation before he could be impeached, and to jail term for his most trusted lieutenants. Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Colson, aka “the President’s Men”, all accepted jail terms without giving up their President, who mendaciously claimed he never knew anything.
Fortunately for the American people, Nixon wasn’t as clever as Lula—he kept recordings that proved he had known everything, from the very beginning.
Lacking such a fortuitous smoking gun, Brazilian prosecutors are now attempting to convince Dirceu, Palocci, Gleisi and other Lula henchpersons that they should simply admit what everyone in the country already knows—Lula knew everything, from the very beginning, about the Mensalão and the Petrolão.
This is the latest in a series of Curmudgeonly analyses of Brazil’s criminal mastermind. There will be more.