BRAZIL

Pres­i­dent says au­dio tap­ing was ‘doc­tored’

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

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.

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