By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In the midst of a crisis that could oust him out of office, Brazil’s President Michel Temer told journalists he would not step down and that he had done nothing wrong, despite incriminating audio recordings being released to the public and thousands taking to the streets in protest.
The statement was made during a press conference, almost 24 hours after recordings of Temer and JBS owner, Joesley Batista, showed that the President knew, and to some ears approved, the pay-offs handed out by Batista to former Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha.
“I will not resign, I repeat, I will not resign! I know what I have done and I know that my actions have been correct,” said Temer during the Thursday afternoon emergency press conference.
For Temer all his administration’s efforts to bring Brazil out of the deepest recession in decades may be destroyed by the recordings. “The revelation of clandestinely recorded talk has brought back the threat of a political crisis of un-scaled proportions, so the immense effort to pull the country out of its deepest recession may turn out to be useless. We cannot throw in the trash of history so much work done in favor of the country,” he stated.
In the recordings released Temer also remains quiet and does not reprimand Batista when the latter says he has two judges ‘in his pocket’ as well as an informant inside the Lava Jato (Carwash) investigation team giving him information. On Thursday night, after listening to the audio in question, Temer and his aides said that there were no compromising statements made by the president.
The release of the recordings made by Batista as part of his plea-bargaining agreement with federal prosecutors triggered eight separate requests for the impeachment of the President.
Although Temer received several votes of confidence on Thursday, two cabinet members have resigned due to the incident, and two others are said to be discussing their departure. Culture Minister, Roberto Freire, and Minister of Cities, Bruno Araujo, have already announced they would be leaving the government.
Local media is also reporting that Foreign Relations Minister, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, already has his resignation letter ready and that Mines and Energy Minister, Fernando Coelho, has been asked by his party to resign.
Across Brazil thousands took to the streets to demand the removal of Temer, from Brasília in front of the Palácio do Planalto, to Rio de Janeiro, where confrontations happened with police at Cinelândia. São Paulo, Recife, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre also saw protests according to government reports.