Brazil crisis deepens with probe of president, top senator

Michel Temer

"Our entrepreneurial spirit and enormous will to work in the face of a Brazilian system that presented us with several difficulties to sell our products, led us to make the choice to make inappropriate payments to public agents", he said in a statement Thursday. "I demand an immediate investigation".

In it, two men can be heard talking about Cunha.

Temer allegedly told Batista: "You need to keep doing that, OK?"

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.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Supreme Court suspended Aecio Neves from his Senate seat Thursday as federal police raided his multiple homes in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia.

Rousseff and her leftist allies accuse him of having engineered her impeachment and his own rise to power past year in what they say amounted to a coup d'etat. "The question is whether it will be quick and for how long reforms will be delayed", trader Thiago Castellan at Renascença brokerage said.

"I will not step down", he said after hours of consultations.

"I did not buy the silence of anyone", Temer said, referring to the allegations made against him. However the president was reported to have asked the Supreme Court immediately to release the contents of the secret recording so that he could respond in a public address penciled in for later Thursday. And while the United States of America spent much of the day talking about impeachment, in Brazil they actually did it: Rede party deputy Alessandro Molon filed an impeachment request against Temer, according to his press office.

Of more concern to Mr Temer may be signs of dissent within his administration, with a leader of his coalition allies, the social democrat PSDB, saying they were considering leaving the government.

The scandal is the latest shockwave from the wider "Car Wash" graft probe ripping through Brazilian politics, involving vast bribes and embezzlement.

Temer was only given the rest of Rousseff's term - until January 1, 2019 - to rule.

Demonstrators march carrying a banner that reads in Portuguese "Get out Temer and your reforms" in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

But the newest scandal around Temer appears to be more destabilising, raising the possibility of even greater turmoil. Rodrigo Maia, the right-wing chairman of the lower house of Congress and next in the line of succession after Temer, the former vice president, is accused of soliciting campaign donations from the construction firm OAS, a major Petrobras contractor, in return for political favors. As protests began in Brasilia, military police surrounded the presidential palace, while protesters also gathered in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city.

He has been challenged by the opposition that has filed for his impeachment due to the JBS case, and by his own ruling coalition members, as some of them believed his presence in the government has become impossible.

Before Rousseff, Luiz Inacio da Silva or Lula, who was president from 2003 to 2011, was involved in the Petrobras scandal himself and is now facing trial for it.

A separate secret recording made by Batista allegedly caught Senator Aecio Neves, head of the PSDB party and a close Temer ally, asking him for a bribe of two million reais, or around Dollars 600,000.

From left, JBS CEO Wesley Batista, Energy and Northern Australia Minister Josh Frydenberg, Ye Cheng from Landbridge, and Andrew Robb, then Minister for Trade in Darwin past year.

Batista's tape has earned him and his brother Wesley, JBS's CEO, immunity from prosecution.

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