Brazilian President Temer: "I Will Not Step Down" Amid Scandal

Brazilian President Temer:

The political storm erupted late Wednesday, when the Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that Temer had been the target of a police sting operation in which he was recorded condoning a payment by a Brazilian businessman to the jailed speaker of the house aimed at ensuring that the politician stayed silent on corruption.

Protests are planned in several cities and opposition politicians took to Twitter and local news channels to call for Mr Temer to be impeached, arguing his government no longer has legitimacy.

The scandal comes at a crucial time for Brazil, which is mired in its worst recession in decades, the economy having shrunk almost 8 percent in the last two years with more than 14 million people unemployed.

The Bovespa index crashed more than 10% after opening, triggering an automatic suspension of trading for 30 minutes.

The U.S. dollar closed at R$3.38/US$1, registering on Thursday the highest daily increase in eighteen years, while the IBOVESPA Index at the São Paulo's stock market registered its greatest daily loss since 2008.

There were protests by several thousand people in Rio de Janeiro and the capital Brasilia which ended in clashes with riot police.

Temer's office immediately denied the report, adding that the president supported a full investigation of the allegations.

Temer found nothing that incriminates him in a recorded conversation with Joesley Batista, chairman of the world's largest meatpacker, JBS SA, the official said, asking not be named in order to speak freely. The Supreme Federal Tribunal suspended Neves from office indefinitely.

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The veteran centre-right politician, who took over previous year with a promise to restore Brazil's stability after the impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff, remained defiant.

"The president's resignation has become imperative to prevent the crisis from worsening", Carlos Siqueira, president of the Brazilian Socialist Party, a small member of the government coalition, told O Globo.

The statement from Temer's office confirmed that the president did meet with Batista in March. "If Temer doesn't fall, he will lead a walking dead administration". Later that month the brothers started negotiating the plea bargain deal in the same month, the source said.

At the same time, a massive corruption scandal involving the state oil company Petrobras was unfolding. Congress cancelled its sessions, including suspending work on legislation that Temer's administration hopes will pull Latin America's largest economy out of its worst recession in decades.

As the scandal developed on Thursday, it was reported that the main party in Temer's governing coalition, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), meant to leave the base of government. In April, it came to light that eight of his Cabinet ministers were being investigated in cases related to bribery or accepting campaign donations from Brazilian constructor Odebrecht, one of the central companies in the kickback scheme at Petrobras. Temer suggested Representative Rodrigo Loures.

The Eurasia risk consultancy said the new allegation threatens Temer.

Brazil's President Michel Temer says he will fight allegations that he endorsed the paying of hush money to an ex-lawmaker jailed for corruption, during a national address at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Brazil's presidential system has no provision for calling elections before the end of the four-year presidential term, so this would require a constitutional amendment, a drawn out process which requires a three-fifths majority in Congress.

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