By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Supreme Court in Brazil will rule today (September 20th) whether or not to suspend a complaint filed by former top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot against President Michel Temer for obstruction of justice and being part of a criminal organization.
The complaint comes as President Temer’s popularity continues to decline and is today one of the lowest of any Brazilian leader.
Janot’s charges were based on investigations initiated after former JBS’s CEO, Joesley Batista gave prosecutors recordings of a conversation with Temer, where the leader President is heard giving his endorsement to the pay-off of a top politician for his silence.
Temer’s lead attorney, Antonio Claudio Mariz, claims that the charges relate to a period in which the President was not in office. “Almost all of the alleged crimes described and attributed to the President are prior to his term, which is why, the leader of the Nation can not be held liable for extraneous acts to the exercise of his functions,” argues Mariz in his appeal.
According to Brazil’s Constitution, a sitting president can not be investigated for events and actions that happened before assuming the Presidency.
Temer’s defense team hopes the Supreme Court will send the complaint back to the new Attorney General, Raquel Dodge, for review. Dodge took over Janot’s position on Monday and is said to be more ‘sympathetic’ to the President and stricter on investigators looking into the Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal.
If the country’s High Court votes not to suspend the charges, the complaint will go to the Chamber of Deputies for analysis. If the accusations are accepted by members of the Chamber, the charges will be reviewed by the Senate (with the Supreme Court presiding).
Meanwhile a survey released Tuesday, conducted by the National Transport Confederation and polling firm MDA, shows that only 3.4 percent of Brazilians find the Temer Administration ‘good’ or ‘very good’ while the disapproval rate surged at 84.5 percent.