Cunha Says Misdeed in Prior Term May Justify Brazil Impeachment

Brazil’s lower house leader Eduardo Cunha gave opponents of President Dilma Rousseff hope by saying in a report he may be able to accept an impeachment request that is based on misdeeds committed in a prior presidential term.

Opposition leaders have filed a request with Cunha to impeach Rousseff based on charges she doctored fiscal accounts, broke campaign finance laws and allowed state-run oil company Petrobras to incur losses from corruption during her first term, which ended last year. Rousseff and her political party deny the allegations.

Lawyers say it’s not totally clear under Brazilian law whether a president can be impeached for misdeeds committed before his or her current term. Cunha wrote in the document that a special committee created in the lower house to study an impeachment request would have to analyze that specific issue. His report, which is an internal document for lawmakers, addresses procedures for an impeachment process.

According to Brazilian law, the committee would then have to send a report with its recommendations on impeachment to the lower house. At least 342 out of 513 legislators would have to vote for impeachment hearings to begin before the case could go to the Senate or Supreme Court, depending on the charges.

Cunha hasn’t indicated whether he will accept the opposition’s request to impeach Rousseff. The presidential press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.