BRASILIA – Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s defense team said on Wednesday that the rapporteur of the special Senate committee on impeachment, who has recommended that she be permanently removed from office, omitted evidence that would clearly show her innocence.
Antonio Anastasia let his emotions get the better of him and ignored a series of documents that would dispel the accusations against Rousseff, her lead attorney, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, told the Senate’s impeachment committee.
Rousseff, who was suspended from office on May 12, is accused of various budget irregularities, including signing decrees that altered government budgets without congressional authorization and securing loans for the federal government from state-controlled banks.
Anastasia presented his final report on the case on Tuesday, concluding that Rousseff was directly responsible for those crimes and that the series of irregularities amounted to an “attack on the constitution” and warranted removal from office.
But Cardozo said Anastasia had ignored a report by the federal Attorney General’s Office that concluded that, despite budget management irregularities by her administration, Rousseff had committed no criminal offense.
He said Anastasia also had only partially cited a second report prepared by Senate experts that found Rousseff had not had a direct role in the failure to repay state-controlled banks in a timely manner for funds they had advanced to her administration.
Rousseff’s opponents say those delayed repayments amounted to loans to finance federal government spending, which is illegal in Brazil.
The impeachment committee will vote Thursday on Anastasia’s report, which is expected to be approved by a clear majority.
The full Senate will then decide in a vote scheduled for Aug. 9 whether Rousseff’s case should go to trial in the upper house.
A simple majority of 41 votes is needed to accept the case, after which the Supreme Court would have to schedule the trial, which would likely begin on Aug. 29 and last five days.
A vote to permanently remove Rousseff from the presidency – possibly on Sept. 2 – would require the support of two-thirds of the Senate, or 54 upper-house lawmakers.
If that happens, her former vice president, interim President Michel Temer, would serve out her term through the end of 2018.