Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon confesses that he’s still addicted to foreign mainstream media, where POTUS Trump has monopolized the news. However, he has recently begun to find grist for his mill in Brazil, and in appointments by chief executives.
Let’s start, briefly, with the City of Rio, where Hizzoner Crivella couldn’t find people he trusts in his cabinet, so he nominated his son, Marcelinho to be his Chief of Staff.
“Nepotism!” you cry, but no one listens. Similarly, Crivella appointed his running mate and current Vice-Mayor as Secretary of Transportation. Unfortunately, he is delinquent in paying municipal and federal taxes. “Disqualified!” you cry, but no one listens.
Moving up (?) to the federal sphere, President Temer, who promised to reduce the number of cabinet ministry posts, has instead decided, for political reasons, to create more of them.
He created a fictitious post called Secretary-General of the Presidency, and gave it cabinet-level status. Not coincidentally, his appointee, Wellington Moreira Franco, has been cited by several of the Lava-Jato plea bargainers as involved in the corruption scandals.
With this appointment, Temer has insured that Moreira Franco, when charged, will have his case judged by STF, Brazil’s Supreme Court, rather than by lower court judge Sergio Moro.
Not too long ago, former President Dilma, before she was impeached, attempted to nominate former President Lula to a similarly fictitious ministerial position, so he could escape Judge Moro. Temer and Moreira Franco were among those loudly protesting this appointment. Today, silence reigns supreme.
Speaking of the STF, both Trump and Temer were granted the opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice, because of the death of a sitting justice. Trump, as promised, appointed an appellate court judge with the same legal philosophy as the justice he replaces.
Temer promised the same thing, but reneged and instead appointed his Minister of Justice, once a lawyer and law professor, now a right-wing politician from São Paulo.
The nominee has decent academic credentials, including his doctoral dissertation, where he expressly recommended that no President should appoint to the STF any member of his cabinet, because of the inevitable conflict of interest that would create.
In his own case, he will become the “revising judge” of corruption cases involving prominent politicians, including quite possibly, President Temer himself.
Both he and Temer have now been struck blind, because, unlike the rest of the world, they cannot see any possible conflict of interest ahead of them. The Senate, full of equally blind politicians, will approve his appointment almost unanimously.
Temer will now appoint a new Minister of Justice, who by law is the head of the Federal Police. The Curmudgeon predicts the new Minister will be someone who opposes the Lava Jato investigations, for political reasons. Do not be surprised when investigative journalists discover that the new Minister has instructed the Federal Police (in secret, of course) not to cooperate with Judge Moro or the Federal Public Prosecutor’s office.
The Curmudgeon was no fan of Lula/Dilma, but one thing they never did was allow their Minister of Justice to meddle in the Mensalão and the Lava Jato investigations to protect their cohorts. Those days are gone forever with Temer in the Presidency.
Back in Brazil, sadly, it’s business as usual … funny business.