Brazil Impeachment Moves to Final Stage After Three Heated Days
Brazils impeachment trial on Saturday advanced toward its final stage, after three days of witness testimony deepened divisions among senators debating whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office.
The Senate finished questioning witnesses Saturday night in a rare weekend session, after opening the trial on Thursday. Lawmakers are expected to hold a final vote Tuesday or Wednesday next week, which will result in Rousseffs ouster if they muster at least a two-thirds majority, as is widely expected.
Rousseff on Monday will make the final appeal in her defense, addressing Congress directly for the first time since proceedings started late last year. Dozens of her closest supporters are scheduled to attend the session to provide support, including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Brazilian magazine Exame reported that Lula traveled to Brasilia on Friday to persuade senators to vote against her impeachment. He arrived as news broke that police had charged him with corruption and money laundering, though he denied wrongdoing.
Tempers ran high during the witness testimony in the Senate, as detractors and supporters of the president traded barbs and accusations. Rousseffs former chief of staff, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, questioned the moral authority of Congress to try the president, and engaged in a heated discussion with Senate President Renan Calheiros that went viral on social media.
The tension underscores the polarized political environment that has emerged during the almost nine months of impeachment proceedings in Brazil. Rousseff supporters accuse her would-be successor, Michel Temer, of staging a coup, while her critics say she mismanaged the economy and broke the budget law by illegally financing government spending.