By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The General Attorney and former Justice Minister in Brazil, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, told a Chamber of Deputies’ commission discussing the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff that the proceeding was started as an act of retaliation by Chamber Speaker, Eduardo Cunha.
“Mr. Eduardo Cunha used his power to take revenge and retaliate against the President because she refused to guarantee the Ethics Council the votes that her party could give him so that he would not be charged,” said Cardozo to Congressional Representatives.
The Speaker of Brazil’s Lower House is facing an Ethics Commission himself, accused of money laundering and not disclosing bank accounts in Switzerland when asked during an investigative inquiry by the Chamber.
Chamber Speaker reacted to Cardozo’s accusations, stating that the Attorney General criticized him to avoid a discussion of the impeachment process. “José Eduardo Cardozo is obviously not telling the truth and acting in an undignified manner,” Cunha told reporters. “He has to seek to defend the government and not start a controversy so as to avoid giving explanations to the country,” added Cunha.
For almost two hours the former Justice Minister made a final plea to the members of the special commission on why the impeachment process, should be dismissed. According to Cardozo the request has basic conceptual errors of financial law, confusing budget management with financial management. Cunha accepted this particular impeachment request late last year, after refusing several other similar appeals.
For the Attorney General for an impeachment to be accepted there has to be proof of a crime of responsibility by the Executive, which according to Cardozo has not been proven. Cardozo told the members of the commission that to accept the impeachment request would be equal to ‘tearing up the Constitution’.
The President is accused of mismanagement of public revenues, borrowing money from state-owned banks to pay for social programs but not including these ‘loans’ in the federal accounting results.
This particular request does not include allegations that Rousseff appointed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her Chief of Staff in an attempt to save the former leader from being charged by prosecutors. Lula is accused of receiving bribes and presents from construction and engineering conglomerates involved in the Lava-Jato (Carwash) scandal.
With Cardozo’s testimony the commission now has heard from both the authors of the impeachment request and Rousseff’s defense. According to specialists, the commission should vote on whether or not to accept the impeachment process by next week.
If accepted, the process goes to the plenary, for a vote of the entire Chamber. According to political analysts, this would be the last stage where Rousseff could halt the process, since if it passes in the Lower House it is very unlikely that the Senate, whose majority is against the current leader, will deny the request.
If she is able maintain her post, many say Brazil is bound to fall deeper into political and economic chaos. This past weekend one of Brazil’s leading dailies, Folha de S. Paulo called for President Rousseff and VP Michel Temer to resign and call new elections.