RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s top prosecutor is accusing President Michel Temer of corruption and obstruction of justice, according to an investigation released by the country’s supreme court on Friday.
Attorney General Rodrigo Janot’s charges dramatically increase the threat to drive the president out of office and represent an extraordinary escalation of a corruption probe that is upending politics and just about everything else in Latin America’s largest nation.
The formal accusations are the latest revelations related to a secretly recorded audio that purportedly captured Temer endorsing the paying of hush money to an ex-lawmaker now serving a 15-year prison sentence for corruption. The audio was first reported by Globo newspaper Wednesday night, and has been rocking the country ever since.
In a plea bargain by the same man who recorded Temer, released as part of the document dump by the Supreme Tribunal Federal, the president is accused of taking $1.5 million in bribes.
Janot says that Temer and Sen. Aecio Neves have tried to derail the “Car Wash” probe via legislative means and by influencing police investigators.
“In this way, there is evidence of possibly committing the crime of obstructing justice,” Janot wrote.
Meanwhile, Temer’s administration began questioning both the legality and content of the recording, an apparent strategy
“President Michel Temer does not believe in the veracity of the declarations” in the recording, according to a statement from his office.
The statement also noted that the person who made the recording, JBS meat-packing company executive Joesley Batista, is under investigation and thus was “taking advantage” of the situation. The…