Brazil president denies OK'ing bribe

Brazilian President Michel Temer delivers a speech at the Palacio do Planalto in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 12. However, top federal prosecutor Rodrigo Janot has said that under Brazilian law, Temer can not be investigated for crimes committed before he became president until he leaves office.

Less than 24 hours after an explosive report in O Globo newspaper that Temer was caught on tape agreeing to bribe the jailed politician, he faced three formal requests for his impeachment.

(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo). Federal police officers leave the building where Brazilian Sen.

"According to Globo, police also have audio and video evidence that Temer's aide Rocha Loures negotiated bribes worth 500,000 [reals] (US$160,000) a week for 20 years in return for helping JBS overcome a problem with the fair trade office".

Brazilian President Michel Temer says he won't be resigning over allegations that he endorsed hush money payments to a former ally, denying the charges in an address on TV.

Even in this country tired from the constant drip of revelations of a wide-ranging corruption investigation, the incendiary accusation set off a firestorm and Brazil's highest court opened an investigation. Stocks and the currency plunged and rumors circulated that Temer would step down.

"Temer is alleged to have talked with Joesley about cash payments to Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the House who has been jailed for his role in the sprawling Petrobras corruption scandal".

"At no time did I authorize the paying of anyone", Temer said emphatically, raising his voice and pounding his index finger against the podium.

In his statement Thursday, Temer angrily responded to the claim, saying: "I never bought anyone's silence".

"I will not resign". The top court suspended Neves from the Senate. Globo then posted the almost 39-minute recording, which is scratchy and often inaudible. Cunha was later imprisoned on a 15-year sentence for corruption.

It remained unclear whether Temer's defiance will be enough, with cracks growing in the ruling coalition, which is centered on Temer's PMDB party and the PSDB Social Democrats, along with a coalition of smaller parties.

"Within my limits, I did the most I could there".

The Bovespa index crashed more than 10 percent after opening, triggering an automatic suspension of trading for 30 minutes. Brazil's Real currency lost 8 percent of its value against the USA dollar in the first half of Thursday. Congress cancelled its sessions, including suspending work on legislation that Temer's administration hopes will pull Latin America's largest economy out of its worst recession in decades.

His office said he would be spending Thursday in back-to-back meetings with party leaders, likely in an attempt to shore up his base in Congress, where he has solid backing despite being deeply unpopular with the public.

Neves is being investigated in several corruption cases related to the "Car Wash" probe into kickbacks to politicians. In recent months, the probe has moved closer to the president and his circle.

Local media reported that Neves was recorded asking for 2 million reais ($638,000) from Batista, which the senator denies. Aecio Neves, who almost won the presidency in 2014 and planned to run again next year.

Globo did not say how it got the information about the recording, which it said was offered in a plea bargain between Batista and his brother Wesley with prosecutors. He promised not to tolerate corruption going forward.

Rousseff was impeached a year ago for breaking budgetary laws, but she and her supporters have accused Temer, her vice president, of orchestrating her ouster as part of a soft "coup" meant to halt the Car Wash investigation.

Globo's reports are the latest in numerous scandals that have plagued Temer, whose approval ratings are hovering around 10 percent.

"I can't see how Temer survives this", said David Fleischer, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia.

Associated Press writer Peter Prengaman reported this story in Rio de Janeiro and AP writers Mauricio Savarese and Sarah DiLorenzo reported from Sao Paulo.

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