BRASILIA – Brazil’s President Michel Temer told EFE that charges he faces over the financing of the 2014 electoral campaign did not pose a threat to his office.
Temer told EFE in an exclusive interview that the legal case he faced alongside Dilma Rousseff, his predecessor, over the election that secured a second term for her as president and for himself as vice president, did not threaten his tenure.
“I will be obedient to the decisions of the judiciary,” he said in an interview, though adding that a conviction would give rise to various appeals and that he would remain president throughout the “long judicial process.”
Temer acceded to the presidency in August after Congress voted to oust Rousseff for alleged budget irregularities.
Temer served as vice president for Rousseff’s first term, from 2011-2015, and remained on the ticket when she was re-elected in October 2014.
Though their political alliance was ruptured by the impeachment process, Rousseff and Temer remain linked as co-defendants in a case arising from allegations their 2014 campaign was partly financed by proceeds from the $2 billion corruption scheme centered on state oil company Petrobras.
While being convicted would require Temer to step down, he insisted that he would complete Rousseff’s term and hand over power on Jan. 1, 2019, to the winner of the October 2018 election.
Apart from the likelihood the case will drag on beyond the end of the presidential term, Temer cited other factors that gave him confidence he would remain president until 2019.
“It’s not improbable” that the charges will be thrown out, he said, or that the court will accept a motion by his attorneys to try him and Rousseff separately.
In that vein, Temer reiterated that he and Rousseff maintained “separate” fund-raising operations and that he contributed only a “very modest” sum obtained through legitimate means.
In disclosures submitted after the 2014 elections, Rousseff’s campaign committee reported expenditures of 318 million reais ($105 million at the current exchange rate).
Temer said he provided just 20 million reais of that total, all of it collected in a “completely legal and regular” manner.
Looking beyond his own case, Temer touched on the deep political crisis generated by a succession of serious corruption scandals uncovered in the course of the Petrobras investigation.
One of the companies most implicated in the Petrobras case was construction giant Odebrecht.
In recent weeks, revelations from former Odebrecht executives who are cooperating with prosecutors to obtain shorter prison sentences have dramatized the extent of the criminality.
Testimony from those executives has led to the opening of investigations into some 100 politicians, including eight members of Temer’s Cabinet and the leaders of both houses of Parliament.
The president emphasized to EFE that those allegations remain “suspicions” and have yet to be fully investigated.
Temer took exception to an assertion by Marcelo Odebrecht, the disgraced former company CEO, that he knew of no Brazilian politician who ever won office without resorting to a slush fund or secret account, known here as “caixa 2.”
“It’s an opinion of Odebrecht, who believes that all politicians make use of caixa 2,” Temer said, insisting that he knew of “many” officeholders and party leaders who did not accept illegal contributions.