Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Recently, the current STF Presiding Justice, Ricardo Lewandowski, had a secret meeting with President Dilma Rousseff and her Justice Minister to discuss impeachment. Yesterday, another STF Justice discussed impeachment with the President of the House.
Why this sudden interest in the STF? Because there are now three possibilities that President Dilma will be impeached. One is that the Lava Jato investigation will uncover something that proves Dilma knew about the corruption. Another is an investigation before Brazil’s supreme electoral court (TSE) of Dilma’s 2014 campaign financing, considering allegations that it was the beneficiary of illegal donations.
The third area is the “pedalada” case, where Dilma is accused of having violated the Law of Fiscal Accountability in order to make the government accounts look better than they were in 2014. This is now before the TCU, an auditing board reporting to Congress.
If Dilma is actually convicted of a corruption-related crime, or if the TCU finds she violated the Fiscal Accountability Law, she could be impeached; in this case Vice President Temer would become President.
But if the TSE finds that the 2014 campaign knowingly used dirty money, and if this is confirmed by the STF, both Dilma and Temer would be removed from office. Then the succession becomes problematic, because the Presidents of the House and the Senate are next in line, in that order.
At the moment, both Presidents are now under investigation for corruption. If convicted by the STF, they cannot take office. And in that case, the next President of Brazil would be … Ricardo Lewandowski, the Presiding Justice of the STF.
So why is Justice Lewandowski chatting with the President? No one, not even the Curmudgeon, knows.
The Curmudgeon came to Rio many long years ago, and has been observing Brazilian politics in this space for a few years more. The scandals have supplied him with lots of material, so please stay tuned.