BRASILIA – The opposition Workers’ Party, or PT, told EFE on Friday that it had begun analyzing whether to seek the removal of Brazilian President Michel Temer from office for alleged influence-peddling.
The PT, which was in power for more than a decade before Dilma Rousseff was permanently ousted from office in August via impeachment proceedings, made the announcement after Government Secretary Geddel Vieira Lima resigned amid allegations of wrongdoing pertaining to a property deal.
“The resignation of the minister Geddel Vieira Lima confirms the seriousness of the accusations, which could implicate the president,” lawmaker Afonso Florence, head of the PT’s bloc in the lower house of Congress, told EFE.
The resignation comes after former Culture Minister Marcelo Calero accused Vieira Lima of illegally pressuring him to allow construction of a building in a historical preservation district of the northeastern city of Salvador.
Vieira Lima had purchased an apartment in that building.
Calero also told Federal Police that he felt that same pressure from Temer and the president’s chief of staff, Eliseu Padilha.
The local press on Friday reported that a conversation between Calero and Temer was recorded on an audio tape and could lead to charges of influence-peddling.
Sources close to the investigation told EFE the tape exists but that it was secretly recorded without a court order and therefore would have no legal standing.
They did say, however, that the tape could have “a significant political impact” due to its content.
Florence, meanwhile, told EFE that the PT would ask judicial authorities to provide them with a copy of Calero’s statement and the audio recording.
He said the party expected that request to be granted and would later meet with a group of jurists to determine whether Temer committed or provided cover for the crime of influence-peddling.
If such a determination is made, that would constitute a “crime of responsibility” and meet the constitutional criteria for an effort to seek the ouster of a head of state via impeachment.
Florence said, however, that the PT would act on purely legal grounds and in no way would support a “coup” like the one that led to Rousseff’s removal from office.
Brazil’s Senate voted on Aug. 31 to oust Rousseff for manipulating budget figures to minimize the size of the deficit, but her supporters say the impeachment proceedings were politically motivated.