Brazil government assures graft probe will continue
WASHINGTON (AP) — Brazil’s justice minister and the top prosecutor both insisted Wednesday that the corruption probe they’ve led against their country’s top politicians will continue in full force, even after ensnaring President Michel Temer.
Justice Minister Torquato Jardim says the investigation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, is a win for Brazilians.
“It is unstoppable,” he said. “Whatever needs to be done will be done under the Constitution and the laws.”
Brazil’s Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot says the country will not tolerate a return to the system that was in place before the investigation began.
“Brazilians are vigilant now,” Janot said.
On June 26, Temer became the country’s first sitting president to be charged formally with corruption. Janot’s office has accused him of accepting bribes.
But Congress has to approve the investigation of the president for the probe to move forward, and some lawmakers also have been caught up in the investigation. Brazil’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, is to vote on whether Temer should be charged in August.
While both agree with the spirit of continuing the investigations, Jardim and Janot have very different but complementary roles. Jardim’s office funds the investigators on the case who work for the independent office of the prosecutor general. The prosecutor general authorizes the charges.
The Ministry of Justice is part of the president’s Cabinet, and as such advises the president on criminal justice policy, law enforcement and the judiciary, but a personal attorney advises Temer on the corruption charges.
Janot has indicated he might prepare a second round of charges against Temer. Asked about that possibility, Jardim, the justice minister, said that if that happens, the government “will see what we have to do. Let’s see what happens first.”
Temer is Brazil’s third president in a row to have issues with the law. Ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted last week for corruption and money laundering, as part of the same investigation in which Temer is charged. On Wednesday, Lula’s bank assets were frozen as a result of his conviction. His successor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached for an illegal change in the budget, unrelated to the corruption probe. Temer succeeded Rousseff in office.
Janot made his remarks at the Atlantic Council, while Jardim spoke at the Wilson Center. Both are Washington think tanks. Janot is attending meetings about international collaboration in corruption investigations.