President says audio taping was ‘doctored’
President Michel Temer told the nation Saturday that an incriminating audio recording of him had been doctored. “That clandestine recording was manipulated and doctored with (bad) intentions,” Temer said at a news conference in the capital of Brasilia.
Temer said he had filed a petition with the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the country’s highest court, to suspend the corruption investigation into him until experts can analyze the audio that appears to record him endorse the payment of bribes to former House speaker Eduardo Cunha for his silence. It’s unlikely the court would do that, as it authorized the opening of the investigation into Temer in the first place.
Temer noted that the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported that the 39-minute recording had been edited. The audio was first reported by Globo newspaper on Wednesday.
Temer also questioned the motives of the man who made the recording, JBS meatpacking company executive Joesley Batista. He accused Batista of buying “large quantities of dollars to cause chaos on the exchange market” before giving the tape to prosecutors.
Temer’s claims about the audio and Batista couldn’t be immediately verified.
In the audio, Temer apparently endorses bribes for Cunha, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence of corruption and money laundering and who led the impeachment push against President Dilma Rousseff last year. Rousseff was eventually ousted for illegally managing the federal budget, bringing Temer, who was her vice president, to power.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian Socialist Party has pulled out of Temer’s coalition and is calling for him to resign. The loss of the Socialists’ seven senators and 35 deputies mean Temer’s plans to reform the country’s pension system and labor laws are even less likely to be approved.