A secret recording apparently implicating President Michel Temer in obstruction of justice and bribery isn’t so much a new scandal, but just the latest dramatic twist in the long-running, mother-of-all scandals that is Operation Carwash. Back when Lava Jato first broke, there were whispers that Temer was also one of the hundreds of politicians caught with their hands in the cookie jar. More recently, the release of a list of nearly 100 senior politicians implicated in corruption includes many of Temer’s cabinet members and key members of the congressional leadership.
This latest recording involves Temer giving his apparent acquiescence to hush money payments to Eduardo Cunha, a jailed politician who was instrumental in bringing down former president Dilma Rousseff.
With this latest bombshell, the direction of Brazil’s politics has swung dramatically. Weeks ago, President Michel Temer was pushing his austerity program as the cure to what ails Brazil’s sick economy. Now all of the president’s efforts will be spent on his own self-defense, like so many of his contemporaries in Brazil’s political establishment.
Tchau, President Temer. He says that the recording had been edited hundreds of times to deceive the public; he says that he will not resign. But make no mistake: President Temer is done. Even before the scandal, his approval ratings were hovering in the single-digits. He was loved by investors, as his austerity platform and conservative credentials helped Brazil’s stock market make a modest recovery, but the general public views him as illegitimate and/or tainted by the Lava Jato scandal.