Rio de Janeiro: An ally of embattled President Dilma Rousseff has filed an impeachment petition against Vice President Michel Temer, citing testimony that implicates him in the sprawling corruption scandal shaking Brazil's political class.
The move by Cid Gomes, who briefly served as education minister in Rousseff's Cabinet, comes as it appears increasingly likely that Rousseff herself will be impeached on allegations she broke fiscal laws.
If she is impeached, Vice President Temer would be first in line to replace her, although his name has been cited by several operators in the snowballing probe into corruption at the state-run oil company Petrobras. In a sign of how much Brazil's political class has been tainted by scandal, the heads of the lower house and Senate, second and third in the line of succession, are also embroiled in the scandal. They all deny wrongdoing.
Gomes told reporters yesterday his petition hinged on testimony in the Petrobras probe citing Temer, including a text message suggesting he may have received an illicit payout of USD 1.4 million.
"My petition is Quixotic, but I am going to fight these terrible windmills for Brazil," Folha de S Paulo newspaper quoted Gomes as saying.
This is the fourth impeachment petition against Temer. Two have already been shelved and a third is "being processed" by the speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, a fellow member of the vice president's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, according to the house's press office.
Gomes has requested his petition be examined not by Cunha -- who is facing money laundering charges and could be stripped of his position by the house ethics committee -- but rather by his second-in-command.
Rousseff's chances of surviving the impeachment proceedings against her took a turn for the worse earlier this week when the PMDB pulled out of Rousseff's ruling coalition.
With a vote in the lower house expected as early as the middle of the month, Rousseff is scrambling to secure the 172 out of 513 votes she needs to halt the impeachment proceedings.
The latest filing against Temer comes a day after remarks by a Supreme Court justice disparaging the country's political class.
In recordings apparently made without his knowledge during a meeting Thursday with university students, Justice Luis Roberto Barroso called the situation a "disaster" and said the political system "doesn't have a minimum of democratic legitimacy," according to a report in O Globo newspaper.