RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s Supreme Court on Monday night authorized an investigation into whether President Jair Bolsonaro committed crimes by allegedly attempting to interfere with the country’s Federal Police.
Justice Celso de Mello said in his decision, a copy of which was published by local newspaper Estado de S.Paulo, that the Federal Police have 60 days to question Sérgio Moro, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister whose resignation last week pitched the administration into turmoil. The justice’s authorization was also reported by several other local media.
During Moro’s announcement of his resignation on April 24, he said Bolsonaro had told him on multiple occasions that he wanted to replace the head of the federal police with someone who could facilitate access to investigations and intelligence reports.
Brazil’s prosecutor-general, Augusto Aras, last week asked the Supreme Court to open an investigation into the allegations made by Moro, who made a name for himself as the top judge in the sprawling Car Wash corruption investigation. He was by far Bolsonaro’s most popular minister and, throughout a series of crises in the Bolsonaro administration, his place in Cabinet helped secure the administration’s base of support and appearance of respect for the rule of law.
The prosecutor-general in his request said Moro’s speech implied Bolsonaro had committed several possible crimes including obstruction of justice, and asked for the former minister to be questioned and provide evidence to substantiate his claims.
Moro quit after Bolsonaro removed the Federal Police’s director general. Bolsonaro claimed the former official had resigned of his own accord, which Moro said was untrue and also that he hadn’t signed off on any resignation.
Bolsonaro, in his address the same day as Moro’s exit, denied wanting to know about investigations underway, but did not address the accusation he wanted a successor who would share information.
The Supreme Court’s press office didn’t reply to requests for information late Monday night. And there was no immediate reaction from Bolsonaro.