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Brazil prosecutors charge President Michel Temer with corruption

Posted June 27

Brazil once again has a president embroiled in scandal.

Brazilian prosecutors have filed criminal charges of "passive corruption" against President Michel Temer, state-run news agency Agencia Brasil reported Monday.

The charges, which Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Janot filed with the federal Supreme Court, came after a secret recording surfaced of a discussion between Temer and Joesley Batista, the president of JBS, a food processing company. In the recordings, Batista can be heard talking about paying bribes.

Temer said the recording was doctored.

The complaint against the President says that Batista sent a $152,000 payment to Temer, which was received in a briefcase by former federal lawmaker Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who also was charged in the case. The passive corruption charge means that the President was to have received the payment through an intermediary.

In a plea deal, Batista said Temer also condoned payments to imprisoned former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha in exchange for his silence in a corruption investigation.

"I know what I did," Temer said following the release of the tapes. "And I know my actions were right."

Temer was originally vice president to Dilma Rousseff -- Brazil's first female president. He became one of the key players that led the charge to impeach Rousseff for breaking budgetary laws.

He assumed the presidency after her impeachment in September.

So far, his presidency has been unpopular, with his approval rating in the single digits. The prospect of a second Brazilian president being forced out of office in less than a year has unsettled markets and investors.

Brazil faces one of the worst and longest recessions in recent history.

Two-thirds of the lower house of the National Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, would need to vote in favor of Temer facing trial. If 342 legislators accept the charge, it will head to the Supreme Court for trial. If the case proceeds that way, the President would be removed from office for 180 days, according to Agencia Brasil.

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