Brazilian president faces illegal funding probe

Meanwhile, the country's top electoral court relaunched a trial Tuesday on alleged illegal election campaign finance that could unseat the president.

If that ruling were to go against Mr Temer, he could be forced to step down.

If the court rules against them, Rousseff could lose her right to hold office for eight years.

Tuesday's court case comes as the president battles for his political survival amid unrelated allegations of corruption and influence-trafficking, intensifying calls for his resignation or impeachment.

Temer's lawyer Gustavo Guedes on Sunday claimed that Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot - who heads the corruption probe - was leaning on the TSE "to find the president guilty". In a significant development, a former advisor to the president was arrested on Saturday.

The TSE had previously been considered unlikely to declare Temer illegitimate.

At its worst, Temer would be found guilty of "economic and political abuse of power", which in turn could involve charges of illegal funding and fraud with Petrobas. "Together!" referring to Brazil's President Michel Temer, outside a presidential office building in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

In a sign of the frenzy that has gripped Brazil's political establishment, former lower house speaker and Temer's ex-tourism minister Henrique Alves was arrested early on Tuesday, the latest of several Temer aides put behind bars in recent weeks. Cunha is serving a 15-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Temer faces investigations for corruption and obstruction of justice after an explosive wiretap recording caught the president endorsing bribes to ensure Cunha's silence as a powerful witness in government fraud cases.

The results of the 2014 presidential elections are being questioned by the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democrat Party) that allege there were some irregularities in the winning ticket's donations, including suspicion that the Rousseff-Temer campaign received funds from the mega-corruption scheme dubbed Operação Lava Jato (Car Wash Operation).

The high-profile arrest also came just a day after federal police sent Temer a list of questions in a separate criminal probe that involves him. On Tuesday, Brazil's top court rejected a petition by Loures to be released from jail.

Defense attorneys argue that evidence in the case was submitted long ago, and say the court shouldn't be able to consider new revelations that emerged from plea bargains by 77 executives at the huge construction company Odebrecht, one of the businesses at the center of a sprawling investigation into kickbacks and bribes at the state-run oil company Petrobras.

If the court decides against the Rousseff-Temer ticket, Chamber of Deputies Speaker Rodrigo Maia would assume the presidency for 30 days while Congress votes in a new leader to serve out the remainder of the term through December 2018. If they do so there is no deadline for the court to resume its deliberations.

Loures was arrested over the weekend for allegedly helping to pay off Cunha.

  • Zachary Reyes