Brazilian President Michel Temer is resisting calls from an outraged public to step down, following the release of a tape a newspaper says features Temer discussing making payments to a former politician jailed for corruption.
"At no time did I authorize the paying of anyone," he said in a national address Thursday. "I did not buy anybody's silence. I will not resign." On Wednesday, the Globo newspaper reported on the existence of the recording, and the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil's highest court, opened an investigation and lifted a seal on the tape. The recording is hard to understand in several places, but two men — reported to be Temer and Joesley Batista, a meatpacking company executive — are heard talking about Eduardo Cunha, the former lawmaker. The man believed to be Temer can be heard saying Cunha has information that could embarrass him, but "I settled everything. He came and collected, etc., etc., etc. I am good friends with Eduardo, okay?"
After the news broke, stocks and currency dropped, opposition politicians called for Temer's impeachment, and several thousand people protested in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Temer, previously vice president, became president just over a year ago after Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from office, and his approval ratings are only at about 10 percent, The Associated Press reports. Cunha had overseen Rousseff's impeachment. In April, it was revealed that eight of Temer's Cabinet members are being investigated for bribery and accepting campaign donations from a construction company, and over the last three years, numerous politicians have been ensnared in a kickback scheme involving the oil giant Petrobras. Catherine Garcia