Brazil House Committee Recommends Ouster of Top Rousseff Foe

Brazil’s lower house ethics committee recommended the ouster of Congressman Eduardo Cunha, who was instrumental in leading the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff.

The committee on Tuesday voted 11-9 in favor of stripping Cunha of his mandate as lower house deputy over accusations he lied about owning a Swiss bank account. The Supreme Court this year opened a criminal case against Cunha on charges of receiving kickbacks, and in May suspended him as the chamber’s speaker. The congressman has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and accuses investigators of singling him out as part of a smear campaign.

The recommendation now goes to the floor of the lower house, which will make the final decision on Cunha’s political future. His permanent removal would prompt new elections for the speaker of the house, a post that can influence the outcome of votes on key spending proposals that Acting President Michel Temer is expected to present this week.

Cunha would be the latest casualty in a two-year corruption probe known as Car Wash that has rattled Brazil’s establishment, putting behind bars executives of leading construction companies as well allies of Rousseff, who was suspended from the presidency last month over unrelated charges. The scandal also forced two of Temer’s cabinet members to resign on allegations they sought to cover up the probe.

Also on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki rejected a prosecutor’s request to imprison Senate President Renan Calheiros as well as Senator Romero Juca and former President Jose Sarney. The three are members of Temer’s political party.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot made the request, alleging that the three sought to obstruct Car Wash. Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, the lawyer for Juca and Sarney, said their arrest would have been unjustified and that neither interfered in the corruption probe. In a statement, Calheiros said he didn’t obstruct justice.

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