Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of the recurring themes of Brazil’s impeachment controversy has been the oft-repeated claim by Dilma’s supporters that those who stand in line to succeed her—Vice President Temer, Chamber President Cunha and Senate President Renan, all holders of high governmental office—have also committed “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
One idiomatic expression of this argument in English is that Temer, Cunha and Renan are each a “pot calling the kettle black”, or, as succinctly defined by Wikipedia, “guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another.”
There is clearly substance to this argument, as all three are under investigation for corruption and other criminal offenses which should lead to impeachment if they became President. Temer himself, while acting as President during some of Dilma’s travels outside Brazil, signed no fewer than five (5) of the “pedaladas”.
Most serious has been the charge that Cunha, while presiding over the impeachment proceedings in the Chamber of Deputies, was himself guilty of criminal behavior that justifies his removal from that position. Today, May 5, 2016, STF Justice Teori issued an order stripping Cunha of his position as a member of the Chamber of Deputies.
This measure is extraordinary, because it goes beyond removing him as President of the Chamber – he is no longer even a member of that Chamber, even though voted into office in 2014. The individual order is subject to confirmation by the full STF, but no one doubts that it will be confirmed. The allegations are all well known, and well documented.
Dilma’s supporters will argue it is “too little, too late”. Supporters of impeachment will rejoice because it means there is one fewer pot calling the kettle black, and avoids the possibility that, if Temer himself is impeached, Cunha would, under the Constitution, assume the Presidency.
The Curmudgeon has read lots of dismal news lately, but today is for rejoicing.