Leaked recordings are trouble for Michel Temer

When will it end?

UNTIL now, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, has personally avoided the scandals that have engulfed his administration. The supreme court has authorised investigations into eight members of his cabinet, as well as 24 senators and 39 lower-house deputies for allegations related to the vast scandal centred on Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company. However, the president was not a target of the inquiries. And no one had suggested that he had committed any crimes during his term of office, which could lead to impeachment.

That changed with sickening suddenness on May 17th, when O Globo, a newspaper, reported that Mr Temer had been caught on tape endorsing the payment of hush money to a politician convicted of taking bribes. According to the newspaper, in March the president met Joesley Batista, a businessman whose family controls JBS, the world’s biggest beef exporter. The firm is being investigated over accusations of paying kickbacks to Eduardo Cunha, a former speaker of the lower house of Congress who is serving a 15-year sentence for his role in the Petrobras scandal. Mr Batista reportedly told Mr Temer that he had been paying Mr Cunha to stay quiet. Mr Temer allegedly responded, “You need to keep that up, OK?” The tapes are now part of evidence collected in a...

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