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Brazil’s Temer: ‘I won’t resign’

  • 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. It was the first appearance since the Globo newspaper published a report Wednesday night that Temer was recorded supporting payments to former Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha. (AP Photo/Ricardo Botelho) Ricardo Botelho

  • A demonstrator carries a sign that reads in Portuguese "Get out Temer" to protest Brazilian President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Brazil's political crisis deepened sharply on Thursday with corruption allegations that threatened to topple the president, undermine reforms aimed at pulling the economy from recession and leave Latin America's largest nation rudderless. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) Andre Penner

  • A woman reacts to a national address by Brazil's President Michel Temer in which he said he would not resign in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday. ap photo

  • Demonstrators shout slogans against Brazilian President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Brazil's political crisis deepened sharply on Thursday with corruption allegations that threatened to topple the president, undermine reforms aimed at pulling the economy from recession and leave Latin America's largest nation rudderless. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) Andre Penner

  • Federal police officers, carrying seized items, leave the building where Brazilian Sen. Aecio Neves resides, at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Brazilian federal police are searching the office and homes of Neves, a top senator and presidential contender. He is being investigated in several corruption cases related to the "Car Wash" probe into kickbacks to politicians. He has denied wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) Silvia Izquierdo

  • A broker watches his screens at a brokerage firm in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017. The country's main Ibovespa stock index dropped 10 percent within 90 minutes of opening and trading was stopped for 30 minutes. Analysts predicted the Brazilian real would fall sharply against the U.S. dollar. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) Andre Penner

  • People protest after listening to a national address by Brazil's President Michel Temer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 18, 2017. The embattled Brazilian leader says he will fight allegations that he endorsed the paying of hush money to an ex-lawmaker jailed for corruption. It was the first appearance since the Globo newspaper published a report Wednesday night that Temer was recorded supporting payments to former Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) Silvia Izquierdo



Associated Press
Thursday, May 18, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Michel Temer on Thursday rejected calls for his resignation, saying he will fight allegations that he endorsed the paying of hush money to a former lawmaker jailed for corruption.

Even in this country weary from the constant drip of revelations of a wide-ranging corruption investigation, the incendiary accusation set off a firestorm and Brazil’s highest court opened an investigation. Stocks and the currency plunged and rumors circulated that Temer would step down.

Instead, the embattled leader remained defiant in a national address to respond to allegations he was recorded endorsing payments to former lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha. The existence and the contents of the recording were reported Wednesday night by the Globo newspaper.

“At no time did I authorize the paying of anyone,” Temer said emphatically, raising his voice and pounding his index finger against the podium. “I did not buy anybody’s silence.”

“I will not resign,” he said.

The Supreme Federal Tribunal opened an investigation into the accusations and lifted the seal on the recording. Globo then posted the nearly 39-minute recording, which is scratchy and often inaudible.

In it, two men can be heard talking about Cunha, who is now serving a sentence on corruption charges but many believe could still provide damaging testimony about dozens of other politicians. Globo’s report said they are Temer and JBS meat-packing company executive Joesley Batista. One man, who is apparently Temer, complains that Cunha could potentially embarrass him.

“Within my limits, I did the most I could there. I settled everything,” responds the other man, apparently Batista. “He came and collected, etc., etc., etc. I am good with Eduardo, OK?”

The first man then says: “You have to keep that up, see?” To which the second man responds: “Every month.”

The pressure built against Temer throughout the day. There was talk that Cabinet ministers were considering quitting their posts, and the culture minister did step down by day’s end. Opposition politicians called for his impeachment.

In the evening, a protest of several thousand people in Rio de Janeiro was broken up when men in masks threw objects at police, who responded with tear gas. In Sao Paulo, the nation’s largest city, hundreds of protesters gathered on a main avenue to demand Temer go.