Ex-minister in Temer gov arrested hours before key trial

Temer has repeatedly stated that he will not resign.

Temer has denied wrongdoing and has vowed to stay in office in the face of increasing calls for him to step down.

If the court votes to scrap the election result, Temer - who took over only past year when Rousseff was impeached - would himself risk losing his office.

Brazil is still shaken by the trauma of Rousseff's impeachment and Temer has argued repeatedly that he is needed to restore stability and see through austerity reforms meant to rebuild Brazil's sickly economy.

However, the lead judge in the case, Herman Benjamin, told the court Tuesday that Brazil's judges "judge facts as facts and not based on political expediency".

The Supreme Court has given Temer until Friday to answers questions by federal police on his conversation with the JBS executive and whether Loures was a middleman.

Raising political tensions, Temer's lawyer Gustavo Guedes on Sunday claimed that Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot was leaning on the TSE "to find the president guilty".

The trial is expected to take at least three days, and there is no deadline for a final ruling by the seven judges.

If the Rousseff-Temer ticket is annulled, the Brazilian Constitution states that, after half of the presidential term, if the positions of president and vice-president become vacant, congress must choose the new representative.

The trial, which began in April but had been delayed, has resumed with Temer facing separate corruption allegations.

The trial began only hours after Temer's ally and former cabinet Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves was detained on suspicion of graft in connection with the 2014 World Cup.

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.

Temer is being investigated for allegedly endorsing the payment of hush money to former Chamber of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha, another former ally.

The owner of JBS reportedly turned over a tape in which Temer can seemingly be heard signing off on bribes and indicating that Rocha Loures could help the company with certain issues.

In four sessions scheduled through Friday, the seven-member electoral court will discuss whether to annul the 2014 re-election victory of then-President Dilma Rousseff and her running mate, Temer, who became president a year ago when Rousseff was impeached for breaking budget laws. Temer could appeal any ruling against him.

Both Alves and Cunha were also targeted because of developments in a fraud investigation at the Caixa Economica Federal [CEF.UL], prosecutors said.

Military Police stand guard in front of a banner with text written in Portuguese that reads "Free Motherland" outside the headquarters building of the Superior Electoral Court, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 6, 2017. And even if the Supreme Court accepts an indictment filed by Janot, two-thirds of the lower house of Congress, where Temer still retains significant support, would also have to approve the motion.

  • Leroy Wright