Brazil leader denies report he endorsed bribing ex-lawmaker

The news that Temer might have been compromised in tape was the latest episode of the Brazilian political drama.

O Globo reported that Batista and his brother, JBS Chief Executive Wesley Batista, presented the recording to prosecutors as part of plea bargain negotiations underway since March.

According to the O Globo report, Batista allegedly recorded the discussion with Temer about hush money the executive paid to Cunha, according to the newspaper.

Batista told Temer that he was providing monthly payments to Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of the lower house of representatives, and Lúcio Funaro so that they would remain silent about dozens of embarrassing secrets. Odebrecht also said Rousseff knew about the contributions in his testimony.

Cunha was sentenced in March to 15 years in prison for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

Temer and Cunha are both members of the same party and were previously allies, but they appear to have had a falling out amid a growing investigation into corruption involving the state oil giant Petrobras. The tape reportedly records the President saying, "You need to keep this up, got it?"

Parliamentarians are now calling for Temer's impeachment, while social movements renewed their call for democratic elections.

The accusations against Mr Temer were made by O Globo newspaper.

Investigators mounting what's called the "Car Wash" probe have uncovered big embezzlement from Petrobras, with scores of politicians accused of taking bribes from executives in exchange for sweetheart contracts with the state-owned oil company.

Despite his extreme unpopularity among Brazilian voters, Temer has maintained a broad majority in Congress, but analysts said public outrage over the scandal could change the political equation.

Alessandro Molon, an opposition lawmaker from the Rede party, has filed a demand to Speaker of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia, for impeaching Temer.

Many Brazilians also read into the fact that it was O Globo, a media conglomerate whose wealthy owners were viewed as backers of the Rousseff impeachment and supporters of Mr. Temer, that broke this story - a sign that he has lost their protection, which could complicate his efforts to see out his term. He has been named in a number of other plea bargains, relating to bribes he allegedly authorized before he took over as President with Ms. Rousseff's ouster last August.

Last week, Temer marked his first year in office, expressing optimism about reforms planned for Brazil's weak economy amid a slump in voter support.

  • Zachary Reyes