A primary argument made by opponents of impeaching Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was that removing her would immediately empower the truly corrupt politicians in Brasília – the ones who were the driving force behind her impeachment – and they would then use that power to kill ongoing corruption investigations and shield themselves from consequences for their own law-breaking. In that regard, Dilma’s impeachment was not designed to punish corruption but to protect it. The last two weeks have produced new corruption scandals that have vindicated that view beyond what even its proponents imagined was possible.
In his short time in office, Temer has already lost five ministers to scandal, but these new controversies are the most serious yet. One major scandal involves an effort in Congress – led by the very parties that impeached Dilma, with the support of some in Dilma’s party – to pass a law that vests themselves full legal amnesty for their crimes involving election financing. In late September, a bill appeared in Congress, seemingly out of nowhere, that would have retroactively protected any member of Congress from being punished for the use of so-called “caixa dois” (second box) monies in campaigns, whereby politicians receive under-the-table contributions from oligarchs and corporations that they do not declare.